Commissioners at the July 25th Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting heard a presentation by Planning Director Michelle Miller to discuss the proposed legal language and specifications for tiny home communities.
Miller said that the provisions for individual tiny homes on lots where mobile homes are allowed are still being considered, but they were not discussed at this meeting.
Focusing on the development of tiny home communities, Miller identified the need for tiny home communities based on affordability, providing more housing options, and infill development.
Miller’s department established a new Planned Development Project-Tiny Homes (PDP-TH) zoning category for tiny home complexes.
The concept for the communities begins with a minimum of four and a maximum of 12 tiny homes, with 400 square feet of green space per home. Current plans require a 25-foot perimeter setback and a building separation of 15 feet. A 15-foot landscaped buffer shall be provided along the entire community perimeter.
The communities are also planned with a system of ADA-accessible interior walkways, sidewalks, and multi-use paths to connect the homes, parking areas, common greens, and public sidewalks.
Miller reported that discussions with the Planning and Zoning Commission raised concerns that limiting tiny homes to only site-built homes “can actually create too much of a niche market and actually cause increases to the cost of tiny homes.” So all types will be allowed as long as they meet the size requirements.
Under the proposed allowances, built-out sheds,shipping containers, or Conex boxes would be classified as tiny homes, provided they are 400 square feet or less and meet code and design standards. Tiny homes on foundations are treated as structures, and permits for these are granted through the Building Department. Tiny homes on wheels (THOW) are not secured to foundations and are permitted by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
Commissioner John Allocco is hesitant to include THOWs in tiny home communities. Unlike mobile homes, which need to be secured to a foundation, those requirements do not currently apply to THOWs, much like an RV resort.
Commissioner Steve Champion agreed, proposing that THOWs should have designated areas within communities with more temporary visitors. Miller and her team will consider adding these areas to the upcoming Land Development Code revisions.
Miller and staff have been in conversations with the Department of Utilities and the Department of Public Works to determine whether the roadways of these communities would be private, if separate water and electric meters should be provided for each lot, and if a central solid waste disposal area will be included with full trash compaction.
Initial concepts for the communities feature a community building and community amenities such as fire pits, gazebos, and pergolas to invite resident interaction.
Pitfalls that commissioners want to avoid are lot sizes that will cause problems with adding driveways, connecting utilities, traffic and parking, and emergency access. Miller reported that roadways would be private but would need to meet the 20-foot standard width to ensure access for emergency vehicles.
In an effort to prevent a cluttered look, onsite storage is favored over additional structures on individual lots. However, Commissioner Jerry Campbell does not see a problem with additional structures or portions of carports constructed as storage.
Homes may also have attached porches, but they may not exceed 25 percent of the home’s square footage. Porches do not count when determining the square footage of a tiny home.
Developing community locations too far away from existing water and sewer connections could push prices into the unaffordable range since a water treatment facility would need to be constructed. These communities would not be candidates for septic systems due to their lot sizes not being large enough to accommodate them.
Miller will use the Board’s comments and suggestions as she continues to amend the proposed Land Development Code as it pertains to tiny homes and tiny home communities. The matter is expected to return to the BOCC in the near future.