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NEWBERRY ‒ The City of Newberry is considering how tiny home neighborhoods may fit within the city. City Commissioners and the Planning and Zoning Board have been discussing tiny home neighborhoods during the past few meetings. Part of what is at issue is whether to permit tiny home neighborhoods by right or by special exception.

Planning and Economic Development staff members have been seeking direction from Commissioners on how they think the City should approach related issues as they attempt to address interested residents and developers.

Staff members have researched various regulations adopted by different communities throughout the state and country, as well as the Florida Building Code. Based on their research, staff created a list of discussion points for consideration.

“Tiny home neighborhoods are intended to provide opportunities for creative, diverse and high-quality infill development, promoting a sense of community and offering a variety of housing types and sizes available within the development to meet the needs of a population diverse in age, income, and household composition,” said Planning and Economic Development Director Bryan Thomas.

“Tiny home neighborhoods can provide affordable housing, a more efficient use of land, encourage creation of more usable open space for neighborhood residents, and provide a means to maximize resident and pedestrian-oriented outdoor spaces while minimizing the impact of automobile traffic and parking. They often include shared amenities such as laundries, storage areas, enclosed or covered gathering spaces and open recreation areas,” he said.

In general, tiny home neighborhoods serve three primary markets. First, tiny home communities appeal to individuals who are seeking to live a more minimalist lifestyle characterized by having a smaller environmental impact, maintaining low to no housing debt and acquiring as few personal possessions as necessary.

Second, tiny home communities can serve the need for affordable housing, providing low to moderate income families with more housing options.

And finally, tiny home neighborhoods can provide opportunities for short-term rentals in the community, such as Air BnBs and vacation rentals.

On Nov. 2, 2020, the concept of tiny home neighborhood development was presented to the Newberry Planning and Zoning Board for discussion. Discussion centered around whether tiny home neighborhoods should be allowed in existing residentially zoned areas, “by right,” or by Special Exception; the type of construction (i.e., site-built, modular, or manufactured); minimum open space, common space and parking requirements.

In discussion with the Commission, Thomas pointed out that the ordinance they are considering allows for tiny home neighborhoods in subdivisions being built.

However, in neighborhoods where homes have already been established, he suggested it would be best to allow tiny home neighborhoods to be allowed by special exception. Neighbors who bought their homes expect the neighborhood to stay somewhat the same as when they bought.

Thomas plans to present an ordinance for Commission consideration in January 2021, after it has been considered by the Planning and Zoning Board.

Scheduled Newberry City Commission meetings will take place on Jan. 11 and 25, 2021.

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