Planning commission considers zoning options
By John Faucher
The city of New London Planning Commission will move forward in exploring options for tiny houses.
In April, a prospective property owner wishing to build a tiny house in a current R-1 zoned district addressed the commission regarding tiny houses.
She explained that she currently lives in California where tiny houses are becoming popular.
Tiny houses typically range from 100 to 500 square feet in size. Their owners often design them for economic sustainability and their overall reduced environmental impact.
New London’s current zoning code requires a minimum of 960 square feet for a single family home.
The commission continued the tiny houses discussion at its May 28 meeting.
Zoning Administrator Paul Hanlon told the committee that filling existing R-1 neighborhoods in with tiny houses was not a good idea.
“If you put a $30,000 house next to a $200,000 home you are going to make a lot of people angry,” said Hanlon.
There was a general consensus and concern for existing property values.
Mayor Gary Henke agreed, but said it could work if there were a special area set aside for the development of tiny houses.
Hanlon informed the committee that the people who want to build tiny houses typically like to be close to the other amenities that a city has to offer, such as green space and other public facilities within walking or bicycling distance.
He anticipated that as the tiny house movement continues to grow, the question will come up again before the commission.
“We want to be proactive in looking at this,” said Hanlon.
Hanlon also informed the commission that there are a number of existing older homes in the city between 800 and 900 square feet.
The commission was interested in looking at what is currently located in the city and exploring vacant lots with the understanding that filling in with tiny houses is not an option at this time.
Commissioners Cindy Goller and Donna Gabert were in favor of defining policies for such development and exploring or assessing areas that could be used for tiny houses.
Henke said if someone comes up with a proposal, the commission would certainly look at it.
“I think we somehow need to make it possible, with guidelines to protect existing property owners,” said Goller.
She noted that the option of tiny houses could make New London more attractive for people looking to relocate here.
“If we create some options as we move forward, I think we’ll be ahead of the curve,” said Goller. “We would need to establish appropriate boundaries because you don’t want a bunch of fishing shacks.”
While members of the commission were not opposed to tiny houses, they agreed that before any action or recommendations were made to zoning codes or subdivision ordinances, the commission would need to keep addressing the topic at future meetings.