12 Dec El Paso County welcomes tiny homes in unincorporated areas
El Paso County will allow tiny houses in unincorporated areas, commissioners agreed unanimously on Tuesday.
They voted to amend the land use code to permit the miniature structures in agricultural zoning districts, on some residential lots and in recreational vehicle parks – wherever mobile homes are allowed, according to the county’s Planning and Community Development Department.
The changes also will let residents live in the homes permanently, which the code previously prohibited because it classified tiny houses as RVs.
Tiny houses are typically less than 400 square feet, and some are mounted on trailers. Fans of the miniature dwellings see them as a solution to rising housing prices that also reduces energy consumption and allows for a new brand of minimalist, mobile lifestyle.
El Paso County is one of the first local governments in Colorado to change its rules for tiny houses.
Walsenburg amended its land-use codes in 2014 to allow the homes on residential lots, though the structures must be removed from their wheels and placed on a permanent foundation. Durango and La Plata County have considered tweaking building codes to allow the miniature dwellings, according to the Durango Herald.
In June, the Colorado Springs Planning Commission agreed to a zoning adjustment that would allow a tiny house on a 400-acre ranch near Colorado 83 and Shoup Road.
County commissioners first expressed interest in tweaking regulations to allow tiny homes in May after approving a zoning variance for a woman who had one of the units placed on her property in 2015 without knowing she was violating the code.
“It’s getting the government out of the way so that an industry can fill a need,” said Commissioner Stan VanderWerf. “I want the county to lead in places like this, and that’s what we’re doing.”
Under the amended code, a resident can buy a tiny house from a manufacturer that builds to a specific set of nationally recognized standards or build their own and have it certified by a licensed structural engineer.
Applicants also will have to meet requirements related to utilities and the home’s appearance. The wheels and hitching components must be removed or covered. A site plan review for a tiny home will cost $247 – $100 more than a review of a traditional residential site plan. Other standard fees, such as driveway and septic permits, also apply.