“Tiny Houses” Food For Thought

Nantucket Town Meeting faced a petition article calling for the creation of a special zoning district for “Tiny Houses.” While, ultimately this issue appears to have been addressed in a different zoning amendment, it provides food for thought.

The Nantucket proposal:

“In order  to relieve  some of  the  pressure  for  affordable,  available  housing  for  year-round residents and seasonal workers, a new Zoning District shall be established.”

1. To amend section 2, definitions, as follows:

“TINY  HOUSE A  detached  structure of  less  than  500 square  feet  containing a  single  dwelling  unit, constructed  on  a moveable  trailer,  or  a  slab  foundation.   A  tiny  house  may  be accessory  to  an  existing dwelling(s)  on  a  lot,  or  constructed on  a lot  with multiple tiny house dwellings  at  a density  of  one  unit  for  each  2,500 square feet  of  lot  area.   No commercial  or  other  non-residential  uses  shall  be  permitted  on  a  lot  containing  a tiny house. The Planning Board shall be the special permit granting authority.”

“2.  To amend section  7A,  use chart,  by  inserting  in the “Use”  column  between  “accessory apartment”  and “garage apartment”  a  new  use “Tiny  House”  to  be  allowed  by  Special Permit  (SP)  or  as  an  Accessory  Use (A)  in  all  zoning  districts.”

“3. To amend section 7B, prohibited uses in all districts, as follows:”

“(2)  Use of  a  trailer  or  a  building-like container  for  residential  purposes  or  as  a  principal or  accessory  building  or  structure  except  such  structures  designated  as  “Tiny  Houses” or  as  necessary  for  storage  of  chemicals  and/or  equipment  by  the  Nantucket  Fire Department. ”

Ultimately this concept appears to have been rolled into amendments addressing “accessory dwellings” and “tertiary dwellings.” However,  these amendments do not specifically mention “tiny houses” or creating stand alone sites for such housing.

My thoughts,  tiny houses are a new vogue in affordable housing consideration.  They might meet a niche need for individuals or couples, but as stand alone properties with multiple housing units are more suited to seasonal uses than year round affordable housing.

As a niche use, perhaps there is a place for them. Accessory dwellings on a single family lot as it appears Nantucket adopted seems viable.  Perhaps, within the affordable housing by-law this could create an option for otherwise unbuildable lots, specifically a portion of the lots in town with less than 5,000 sf or less than 50 feet of frontage. I would think we would want to maintain at least 2,500 sf for a minimum land area as is the case in the Nantucket proposal.

Let’s discuss.


One thought on ““Tiny Houses” Food For Thought

  1. Pingback: Are Tiny Houses a Part of the Solution to our Affordable Housing Problem? | Town of Dennis, MA Planning Weblog

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