12/20 Tiny house rules loom large in Pitt County, NC

Pitt County commissioners in 2015.

Pitt County commissioners. (Photo from 2015, not this Monday’s hearing.)

Pitt County commissioners delayed action on amendments to the rules governing tiny houses and recreational vehicles after two people speaking at Monday night’s public hearing said the language was troublesome.

The commissioners directed Planning Director James Rhodes to meet with the speakers and explore ways to help them before a vote on changing text in the county’s zoning ordinance.

Stephen Brand said when he sought a permit three years ago to build a tiny house on 10 acres of land he owns on Dixon Road, the building inspector told him the project did not fall under his jurisdiction.
Brand said he and his father built the home to the standards available at the time. The county permitted a septic system and a solar panel array at his property, but he worries his home won’t be permitted under the proposed rules.

Sophie Szymeczek of Fountain said the new language doesn’t explain what a tiny house is. It defines it as a recreational vehicle, which they aren’t, and doesn’t accurately reflect what tiny homes are, she said.
Szymeczek also questioned if the rules would prevent someone from purchasing a tiny home from an out-state-builder and shipping it to Pitt County.

Rhodes said his office is requesting the text update to match definition provided by the state. The proposed changes define the difference between a tiny house and a recreational vehicle, he said.
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.

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Elaine Walker

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