East Spencer board rejects tiny house idea

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 22, 2020

By Shavonne Potts

EAST SPENCER — Jamilla Kennedy will have to come up with a new affordable housing plan after the town board did not accept her idea to use sheds as housing units.

Kennedy, who owns property at 101 S. Long St. in East Spencer, first presented her idea to use multiple sheds converted into small housing units at a previous board meeting. The largest home would be 14-feet-by-20-feet, with additional structures even smaller. The area is currently zoned as general business, and Kennedy could use it for residential purposes with a conditional use permit.

The property is located yards away from town hall — where Kennedy presented her request to the East Spencer town board this week for final approval.

Mayor Barbara Mallett said the board agreed during a public hearing this week to leave it open until Kennedy could return with a better plan. Instead of denying her permit for the usage she originally applied for or approving it, the board chose to table the vote.

Brandon Emory, who handles the town’s code enforcement, worked with Kennedy and prepped the board on what the town’s current ordinances allow.

“The main thing we had to look at was it consistent with the properties located around it. It would be more of a class A manufactured home and that is not an allowed usage in that district,” Emory said.

Kennedy officially has roughly one year to return with a new plan, according to town officials, but Emory said she won’t be asked to pay another $600 fee if she returns later than that. Emory said he will create a document to explain the situation to any future board or code enforcement personnel if Kennedy should return with an idea a couple of years from now.

No one spoke in opposition or in favor during the public hearing. However, Emory said he heard from neighbors outside of the meeting they desire to see stick-built housing, not tiny homes.

The board also:

• Approved the placement of an electronic display sign outside of town hall. The sign will be in place before the end of the year, Mallett said.

• Approved the purchase of a police car at the cost of $9,500. The cost for the car was included in the police department’s budget and aided by the sale of an outdated car that was sold as surplus.

• Heard from resident John Jones, who spoke to the board briefly about property that he owns at the corner of North Long and Earnhardt streets.

Jones, who is in his 80s and in failing health, wants to settle his estate now. He has two houses on his property, one of which meets the minimum housing standard and was recommended for removal.

Jones told the board he wants to sell a portion of the property, but Emory says the property cannot be divided evenly. The property’s current zoning requires a minimum lot size of 6,000 square-feet and the property has two houses that sit on 11,000 square-feet.

“His lot is grandfathered but if he wants to parcel it out he has to comply with current zoning standards,” Emory said.

The board requested that Town Adminstrator James Bennett, Attorney Tom Brooke and Emory look at the property to see if anything can be done.

“We have to research the ordinance and provide the board with alternatives,” Emory said.