06/23 Tiny house movement moves into Tri-Cities; some local zoning departments concerned

kitchen of Tammy Backlund's tny house

kitchen of Tammy Backlund’s tny house

“Tiny homes are for down-sizers, for people who want to un-complicate their life,” said Todd Garland, sales manager for Green River Log Cabins in Campabello, South Carolina.

The company has been making small cabins since 1996 and started making tiny homes in 2012.

“I think since the economic downturn [it] really focused people’s attention on what’s important in life and big homes aren’t as important as they used to be,” Garland said.

He says they build about 10 tiny homes a month and mostly sell to people who are over 50 years old or to people in their early twenties.

But Garland said tiny homes can come with some problems, “There [are] some real zoning issues with tiny homes.”

Some cities are embracing the trend. Spur, Texas declared itself the nation’s first tiny house friendly town in 2014. But Hadley, Massachusetts recently rejected a proposal that would have allowed tiny homes, forcing a tiny homeowner out of her house last month.

Washington County Planner and Development Administrator Jordan Clark said tiny homes are a gray area and he has some concerns about them.

“Our zoning codes are designed to address RV’s and mobile homes and the tiny house kind of falls in-between there,” Clark said.

He said while people may want to live in tiny homes permanently, they might not meet all the building code requirements and certifications to allow it.

“We don’t want to start allowing these things to come in as permanent residences and they may be substandard in some way,” Clark said.

It also depends on how a tiny home is classified. Mobile, modular, stick-built, and park model RV homes have different zoning restrictions and building code requirements. Garland said some land has square footage requirements and tiny houses are too small in some cases.

Clark said his department is discussing whether or not to allow tiny homes in the county. But some tiny home experts think change is inevitable. He said, “I think they are so popular and there are so many people want to explore this as a possible lifestyle that they’re really pushing the local building departments and municipalities to accept these.”

Read more and watch the videos – http://wjhl.com/2016/06/23/tiny-house-movement-moves-into-tri-cities-some-local-zoning-departments-concerned/

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Elaine Walker