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P&Z ponders ‘tiny home’ phenomena

P&Z ponders 'tiny home' phenomena

The Navasota Planning and Zoning Commission conducted a workshop Thursday, March 8, to address implementation of zoning and design standards for “tiny” homes. While they’ve been in existence for 30 years, tiny homes have risen in popularity via shows on the HGTV network, and according to Kris Gruver Community Relations Specialist, the city of Navasota has received a number of permit requests.

Gruver told the board, “When we found out the IRC (International Residential Code) will have an appendix in the 2018 version for safety, we (city staff) thought it would be a good time to get in front of y’all to have the discussion.”

Current city ordinance requirements for residential housing include a minimum of 750 square feet of heated area that includes a bathroom and kitchen area and asphalt or concrete driveways.

Gruver added, “It has to be livable to normal standards that are in the IRC.”

During the workshop Gruver provided slides of tiny homes that ran the gamut from upscale, designer, custom tiny homes to storage pods, metal carports, or a metal circle arc, with sides and a window or two.

Referring to photos of the metal carports, Gruver said, “This is the type of building we are seeing a lot of when they send us the plans.”

Concerns expressed by some board members centered on maintaining the integrity of the historic look of Navasota as well as the fad nature of tiny homes. At the same time, there was consensus that some older homes in some parts of Navasota are very small and in such poor condition that a tiny home could represent an improvement for the occupant and actually enhance the neighborhood. The brainstorming session also included suggestions of allowing tiny homes in certain residential zones that have lots too small for the average single family dwelling or even a “tiny home” community.

At the close of the workshop, all were in agreement with pursuing a tentative plan to develop guidelines to present to city council defining tiny homes, design standards, and where allowed or not allowed, with examples.

Board members present included Chairman Dia Copeland, Monica Fultz, James Harris, Randy Peters, Patty Tokoly and Dr. John Walla. Absent was Carolyn Katkoski. Also present from the city of Navasota were Gruver and Community Development Director, Lupe Diosdado.