ST. GEORGE – Tiny houses are a popular trend around the nation and Washington County is no exception.
“I don’t know why we have a minimum size home,” Washington County Commissioner Zachary Renstrom said before approving changes that affect home sizes at a regular commission meeting Tuesday. “If someone wants to live in a 200-square-foot home, I don’t know why we care.”
The measure, approved by county officials, updates and clarifies subdivision ordinances governing tiny houses, recreational vehicles and agricultural animals.
Small houses 1,000 square feet or smaller are part of a movement towards simple living that includes very small dwellings. The concept inspired the reality TV show “Tiny House Nation” that premiered in 2014.
The county has had a lot of inquiries about tiny homes, county planner Scott Messel said, which was unexpected because lots in the unincorporated areas of the county are typically quite large.
“We removed the square-footage requirement for single-family dwellings,” Messel said. The previous minimum size was 800 square feet. Home builders must still abide by the county building codes, he said.
According to county building codes, dwellings must have at least one habitable room that shall have not less than 120 square feet of gross floor area. Bathrooms don’t count into this total, but both a bathroom and kitchen are required.
Tiny houses are allowed in residential zones in the county as long as they are on a foundation and hooked up to utilities.
Tiny homes built to be mobile with an axle and wheels are now classified as park model recreational vehicles and are allowed as a conditional use in recreation grounds and facilities and campground projects. However they are not allowed on residential lots, Messel said.
The revised zoning ordinance, approved by the Washington County Commission Tuesday, amends and clarifies several zoning regulations.
The ordinance created a definition for private recreation grounds and makes the use permissible in some areas.
“We’ve also had quite a few requests in areas such as Kolob where we have commercial groups that want to come in and – whether it’s canyoneering or horseback riding – they want to take people on tours,” Messel said.
“They need to come in and get a business license for it,” he said, “but we didn’t have any way to check and make sure they had approval or the OK from property owners.”
The ordinance also created a definition and approval process for “tourist homes” – any establishment used for temporary rental, including bed-and-breakfasts.
Tourist homes are allowed in several zones: open space transition, agriculture, forest residential, seasonal forest residential, residential agriculture, residential estate, single-family residential and multi-family residential zones.
All tourist homes shall be required to register with the state, obtain a business license and complete the tourist home rental application.
A tourist home must have a local agent available by phone 24 hours a day and must abide by good neighbor practices which forbid loud music, unruly parties and parking on the street, among other requirements.
The ordinance adds campgrounds as a conditional use in several zones: open space transition, agriculture, forest residential and seasonal forest residential.
The ordinance clarifies the number of animals which may be kept in a residential zone. Animals are limited to one large animal for every 12,500 square feet of land, with a maximum of four. Large animals include horses, cattle or other animals in this category.
Under the revised ordinance, three medium animals equal one large animal. Medium animals include goats; sheep; and horses or ponies smaller than 36 inches at the withers.
Not more than eight poultry or rabbits or other small animals are allowed for every 12,500 square feet of area; and no more than 30 small animals on any lot.
No pigs or exotic animals are allowed in a residential zone with the exception of weaner pigs 6 months old or younger, which are raised for stock shows.
Ed. note: Clarified small animal limits.
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