Developers Hannah Ball and Jason Jones left council members with two main questions surrounding code changes that would allow for tiny homes in Garden City: what defines a tiny home community, and should RVs be part of that community?
The developers say changing the code to allow the homes would bring a new style of affordable housing. The proposed zoning change defines a tiny home as a “mobile home” on a trailer or wheels built out of the home’s building materials with a ground floor no larger than 400 square feet.
Ball and Jones presented the council with an update to their concept, which includes changing design standards from permitted use to conditional use. They say in this way that the project will be subject to a more rigorous review.
“By changing them to conditional use permits, it really allows the agencies to look at a site by site design and say, does it feel like a community,” Ball said. “Is it appropriate for the street or the area? So we also see it street by street. What if it’s already next to a gym and a laundromat? What if it isn’t?”
Tiny houses would not go through the regular planning permission process because they have to be roadworthy. This also sparked a debate about whether an RV could come to a traditional small home community. Ball asked the council if they would rather see communities with a mix of RVs and tiny houses or strictly tiny homes.
“So kind of mixing these with that, I can see a huge difference between these and a 20-foot-long, eight-foot-wide RV that you can tour around as well,” Mayor John Evans said. “So you know how the code would address that would be something I think would be interesting. And something that might be doable within our current RV code.”
Mix of facilities
Facilities were also a fair part of the discussion. It was suggested by city staff that they look at mixed use code for amenities and follow that standard. Another idea that was thrown out was to have a new code that says communities must have two types of facilities and then choose from a list. This idea was the one Ball preferred.
“I actually liked it because I really believe that high-quality facilities are very important in a community of this nature,” she said.
Concluding this topic was the question of what defines a tiny home community.
“A 1-acre lot is a sweet spot because, again, it allows for a lot of fun amenities. It has a lot of open space. We don’t envision the tiny house communities, well, they’re designed not to be dense, to not be packed and crowded and loaded in a way that doesn’t promote a sense of community.”
Changes to the tiny home community code are still being debated.