11/17 Pitt County, North Carolina Planning Board recommends changes in RV, tiny house rules

Pitt County emblemPitt County’s Planning Board sent the Board of Commissioners two proposals that would increase who receives mailed public hearing notices and further define recreational vehicles and tiny homes…

Staff recommended changing the zoning ordinance text on recreational vehicles and tiny houses because the state’s departments for insurance and public health recently provided some guidelines clarifying how certain types of RVs should be set up and occupied, planner Mark Nottingham said. The county also fielded a request earlier this year to build a structure that was not a site-built home but also did not meet structural guidelines for modular and manufactured homes, he said, so the county defined it as a recreational vehicle.

The proposed changes define the difference between a tiny house and a recreational vehicle. The new definition states a tiny house and its foundation must comply with the state’s residential building code. If it is built off-site and transported, it must be inspected and certified under the state’s modular construction program. If it is built through the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development’s manufactured housing construction program, it will be permitted and inspected as a manufactured home.

If a tiny house does not comply with either set of rules and is built on a trailer frame with axles and wheels, it is considered a recreational vehicle and is not acceptable as a permanent dwelling.

The definition of an RV park also is changed. Currently, a site or tract of land has to have spaces for 15 or more RVs or campsites to fall into the RV category and its requirements, Nottingham said. The staff said the number should be reduced to three.

The proposed changes require recreational vehicles to meet setback requirements for single-family homes, meaning the lots must have 30 feet to 40 feet in the front of the property and 10 feet on the sides and rear.

Recreational vehicles cannot be permanent residences until they meet specific building codes. Nottingham said there was not a clear definition of temporary occupancy so the county adjusted the definition and lengthened the amount of time a person could temporarily live in a recreational vehicle from three months to 180 days in a consecutive 12-month period.

John Powers, owner of Whispering Oaks RV Resort on Sunnyside Road, said he supports the changes. His property has 12 sites, so it doesn’t fall under the county’s RV Park definition and will be grandfathered if commissioners adopt the changes.

“I feel like our facility is a valued resource for Pitt County, especially ECU on game day,” Powers said.

Planning board member R.J. Hemby asked how the county would enforce the 180-day limits on living in an RV. Nottingham said it would be difficult to enforce and likely would require neighbors reporting violations.

The changes will go in effect Jan. 1 if commissioners approve the request in December. The rules are only for unincorporated areas of Pitt County.

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Elaine Walker

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