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.