Rules for tiny homes continue to be tough discussion

Vote postponed for third month by county P&Z board

Adam Rollins, Staff Writer
Posted 9/24/22

Warren County’s planning and zoning board continues to grapple with how to regulate so-called “tiny homes” if the county begins allowing developments built around the pint-sized …

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Rules for tiny homes continue to be tough discussion

Vote postponed for third month by county P&Z board

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Warren County’s planning and zoning board continues to grapple with how to regulate so-called “tiny homes” if the county begins allowing developments built around the pint-sized dwellings.

The term “tiny home” typically refers to houses that are smaller than 600 square feet. Proposed rules being considered by the planning and zoning board would allow for construction of the homes in specially designated districts.

Tiny home manufacturers from St. Peters, along with several local developers, addressed the board with questions and concerns about whether tiny home developments would be economically viable under the proposed rules.

“We’re getting such local interest. … We’re having to turn people away because they want (tiny homes), but they have nowhere to go with them,” said Lisa Grewe, who works with Mini Mansions Tiny Home Builders in St. Peters. “We’d love to see an opportunity to provide these homes to folks locally.”

Grewe and her husband, Dan, described well-produced tiny homes as being high quality in a small space. They said they wanted to address two key debates within the county’s proposed rules: the questions of minimum acreage for a tiny home district, and of minimum setbacks between each home.

Other tiny home developments that Mini Mansions has worked with place the homes fairly close together in order to make construction of utilities more economical, said Dan Grewe. 

“To spread them out ... with the septic and the water, that makes no sense financially. It’s very difficult for a developer who wants to put in a nice community,” he said. “These communities are beautiful. It’s just the people who live in them are minimalistic.”

Forcing developers to buy large amounts of land or overbuild utilities to serve low-density housing would not be a “minimalistic” cost getting passed on to homeowners, he added.

The initial draft of the tiny home rules called for a minimum of 15 acres of land, an average density of one house per acre, and minimum setbacks of 100 feet between structures. Public input has talked the planning board toward allowing significantly more houses on less land, but no concrete numbers have been set.

Lillian Heineman, a potential developer who owns land near Marthasville, asked the board to clarify how tiny homes could be used. Heineman is interested in allowing short-term rentals for people visiting the “wine country” along the Missouri River.

Board members have previously debated whether to allow short-term rentals in tiny homes. There currently is no prohibition in the draft rules, board members said.

Board members also heard from area resident Donna Reed, who said she lives in a tiny home inside the Dogwood Lake RV park south of Warrenton. Reed said neighborhoods of tiny homes would be particularly good for seniors who desire inexpensive, independent living. Reed recommended the planning board allow for tiny homes to have wheels affixed so that “snow bird” residents can tow their homes to warmer climates in the winter and then return home.

“It’s about the lifestyle you’re going to have when you get to that stage,” Reed said.

With all those topics and other, more minor facets of the tiny home rules still unresolved, planning board chairman Corey Johnston postponed a vote for a third month, and asked board members and county staff to thoroughly examine all the public input so far. The board hopes to vote on a finished draft of the rules in October.

The planning board will reconvene on Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. in the County Administration Building.

Once the board approves a draft of the rules for tiny home districts, that draft will be sent to the Warren County Commission for a new round of public hearings and a final vote.

Tiny homes, Warren County, Planning and Zoning

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