GALLIPOLIS — Gallipolis City Commissioners met for their regularly scheduled Tuesday meeting and discussed the rise of the tiny home trend and the potential for it coming to Gallipolis along with talk about a potential adoption of an Athens ordinance focused on making sure leased properties were up to a habitable standard.
“(A trend) coming into play now are small or tiny houses,” said City Manager Gene Greene. “They’re becoming a concern to the area and I think we’re going to have to set up guidelines for these houses. As of right now, we’ve nothing that is actually set in stone. We have some (legislation) on mobile homes. I’ve done a little research and have found other places that require a structure to be (a minimum of) 1000 square feet with a permanent foundation, built on-site and must have water and sewer hookups and plans that are approved and a permit, same as any other construction, and they conform to the municipal code on buildings, safety and health requirements before they go to a planning board. I think we should look into adopting something like this.”
Tiny houses have informally been recognized as small, oftentimes custom-made, buildings that are carried about on trailers. They’ve become the focus of recent home improvement and construction-based television shows. They differ from standard mobile homes in that they typically aren’t constructed on an industrial scale.
“When it says built on-site, does that exclude modular or pre-manufactured homes?” asked Commissioner Beau Sang. “…It’s a fine line because technically the tiny homes are pre-manufactured. They’re just not built on-site…”
New mobile homes, sometimes recognized as “trailers,” are not allowed to be placed inside city limits. Greene said he believed modular homes, pre-manufactured homes assembled on-site on a more traditional foundation, had been previously addressed in other legislation. City Commissioner Cody Caldwell asked Greene if he felt the city needed a specific ordinance.
“I think we should write one, I really do,” said Greene. “It’s going to come…We’re not the only people that are looking at these. There are several things. If you bring them in and set them down, I mean they’re mobile, so do they have to pay taxes? I think this would be good to bring this before the planning commission, the same as we do any other (structure) and let them have a decision…”
Greene said he felt if “tiny homes” became common place in Gallipolis that it could hurt the value of neighboring properties. The city manager also expressed concern that because tiny homes had a low investment value he felt they could be more easily abandoned, thus creating a dilapidated building issue for the city.
In other discussion, Sang eventually brought forward to the commission that he felt it may want to consider adopting an ordinance, one inspired by a reportedly existing one in nearby Athens. The ordinance supposedly would ask property owners to undergo a residential inspection to make certain a property was safe and habitable for potential tenants before an agreement was signed. One landowner at the meeting voiced concerns with the idea in that she felt if properties were to be inspected before leasing, others that weren’t being leased should also be inspected as to avoid treating leased properties differently.
Sang said he understood her concern. He suggested the potential ordinance could be a means of keeping code violation issues in check in the future. Gallipolis Code Enforcement, along with the city manager’s office and Gallipolis City Solicitor have previously formed a task force to tackle other code issues about town.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.