Tiny homes
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While tiny homes are becoming increasingly popular, zoning regulations and land use development codes in counties across Colorado make placing the structures a challenge. Because the homes are considered recreational vehicles, most jurisdictions in Colorado have rules that prevent them from being used as permanent housing. But, at Peak View Park in Woodland Park, owners of tiny houses are able to circumvent the rules because the former mobile home park outdates the county regulation that stipulates RVs can only be used as temporary housing. (Photo by Dougal Brownlie, The Gazette)

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Fountain officials are considering adopting zoning rules for tiny houses and short-term rentals, such as those advertised through Airbnb and other properties that residents rent out for less than 30 days at a time.

Tiny houses, which are typically considered less than 400 square feet and mounted on trailers, are allowed in campgrounds in Fountain, and the City Council can grant a special use if a resident wants to put one in a mobile home park, Fountain Planning Supervisor Kristy Martinez said.

But the city has no rules to guide the development of tiny home communities, Martinez said.

Such “villages” for the trendy homes are beginning to crop up throughout Colorado, and tiny living enthusiasts say there’s a demand for more. Peak View Park, a former RV park off U.S. 24 in Woodland Park, is home to more than 50 tiny houses.

El Paso County became one of the first local governments in Colorado to change its rules for tiny houses when it amended its land use code in December 2017. That code now permits tiny homes in some unincorporated areas, including in agricultural zoning districts, on select residential lots and on land where mobile homes are allowed. Plus, residents can live in the homes permanently, which the county’s past land use code prohibited.

“We’re just scratching the surface and looking at what what other people have done,” Fountain City Councilwoman Sharon Thompson said, adding that residents have asked city officials about tiny houses. “We’re opening the discussion and seeing where it leads.”

Fountain is also looking at rules that Colorado Springs has imposed on short-term rentals, Martinez said.

Colorado Springs charges short-term rental property owners $119 a year for a permit.

“Our code doesn’t address it at all,” Martinez said. “So we’re really just looking to write in some language to have some regulation for those short-term rentals.”

The amended zoning ordinance will likely be more than 200 pages, so the city plans to post drafts of the changes in six separate parts so that they can be more easily reviewed by the public, Martinez said.

The first few documents are expected to be published on the city’s website in March or April, and residents will be able to comment online, she said.

Public hearings will also be held before the planning commission and the City Council before the council votes on adopting any changes. Fountain hopes to finalize any tweaks by the end of the year, Martinez said.

The city, which hasn’t changed its zoning ordinance since 2002, is paying Denver-based consulting firm McCool Development Solutions nearly $117,000 to help with the amendment process, she said.

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