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Tiny homes could come to Hernando County

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Senior Planner Michelle Miller led a presentation at the March 22, 2022, regular Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting on modifying land development regulations to allow for the development or construction of tiny homes in Hernando County. No decisions were made during this meeting, but Miller will identify communities where tiny homes would be appropriate and return the information to the board at a later date.

Currently, the minimum residential building size is 600 square feet. Tiny homes range in size from approximately 100 to 500 square feet and can be an option for affordable housing in the county. According to data from the agenda packet, “the county would need at least 23,850 housing units by 2040 to house its future population.” On December 17, 2019, the BOCC accepted the Affordable Housing Needs Analysis and Action Plan as a guiding document for future housing initiatives in the County.

Current regulations allow for deviations from lot size, buffers, setbacks, and unit size for parcels zoned as Planned Development Project (PDP). There are no provisions for tiny homes on individual lots, and the addition of a tiny home as an “Accessory Dwelling Unit” to an existing home is subject to specific rules and must be attached to and similar in style to the main residence. Such a residence is allowed as a conditional use for up to 2 years based on hardship.

Affordable Housing Committee member Josh Hofstede commented at the end of the presentation, “This is not necessarily what we want, it’s what we need, because, basically people are out in the streets.” He added that tiny homes on wheels are not bound by code restrictions, and can be constructed from recycled materials.

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Anticipating “Not in my back yard” positions, Hofstede concluded, “I see [tiny homes] as a necessity … we can’t have our feelings hurt because someone is trying to exist next to us.”

Jo-Anne Peck owns Historic Sheds, and builds tiny homes on foundations, but cannot do so in Hernando County. She stated, “Most communities do not have a minimum square footage,” and described a 350 square foot home she recently built in Hillsborough County. “It didn’t bother her neighbors in any way. It’s cute as can be.”

Miller’s presentation included examples of tiny home configurations in Rockledge, Key West, and Longwood. Four types of developments were brought to the BOCC for consideration; individual tiny homes, tiny home communities, tiny homes as accessory dwelling units (a secondary unit on an existing lot), and tiny homes for recreation/vacation purposes. The inclusion of wheels on a tiny home essentially brands it as a recreational vehicle and requires a license plate and vehicle registration. These types are common in Key West, where hurricane evacuations are common.

The county will consider site-built or permanent homes vs. tiny homes on wheels, their compatibility with the surrounding neighborhood, and impacts on public facilities and utilities, especially when used as a secondary structure on an existing property, in addition to a conventional home.

Miller additionally recommended that the county consider location criteria, use of planned development projects and residential districts, as well as the allowance of tiny homes as accessory dwelling units on existing properties. Additionally, tiny homes could be constructed or placed in agricultural zones.

Lisa MacNeil
Lisa MacNeil
Lisa MacNeil is a reporter for the Hernando Sun as well as a business technology developer, specializing in website development, content management systems, and data analysis.
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