Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: This house in west Pima sits at 568 square feet – making it slightly larger than the town’s new Tiny Home designation – and is actually a guest house for the main residence currently under construction.
Moratorium on new multi-family housing to end
By Jon Johnson
PIMA – With the enlargement of minimum lot size requirements for single-family homes, the town of Pima has created a separate “Tiny Home” zoning so owners of smaller lots wouldn’t be left high and dry.
The Pima Town Council unanimously approved changes to the town’s housing code during a second reading at its Tuesday, July 12 meeting. Mayor Dale Rogers was not in attendance. The changes include a new section regarding Tiny Homes, however, the update did not fulfill the council’s ultimate desire to create specific multi-family housing zones.
Tiny homes can be built on lots as small as 5,000 square feet while the minimum lot size necessary for a single-family dwelling in Pima is now 7,000 square feet, with 8,000 square feet the minimum for a two-family dwelling (duplex). For tri-plexes and more, 7,000 square feet is required plus two square feet of lot area for each square foot of building floor space above 500 square feet. So, a tri-plex with three 700-square-foot dwellings would require a minimum lot size of 9,700 square feet. The new codes also outlaw domestic animals on multi-family lots with household pets as an exception, require a minimum of two off-street parking spaces per livable unit, add minimum backyard setbacks, and more.
According to the new town code, a Tiny Home dwelling must have a minimum of 200 square feet of living space with no more than 500 square feet. The dwellings are also “expected to have” one full bathroom with a ceiling height of 6’4”, ceiling heights of at least 6’8” in other common areas, at least one window that doubles as an emergency exit and comply with all local and international residential codes.
While the addition of a Tiny Home section in the housing code could give property owners with smaller lots an option to build, it still did not address the main concern of the council that led to the moratorium of multi-family housing – zoning that separates multi-family housing into its own zone like was done with manufactured housing. Currently, multifamily dwellings including duplexes and apartments are in the same housing zoning designation as single-family homes – and now Tiny Homes as well.
Town employee Jimmy Lofgreen previously told the council at its June 14 meeting that Planning and Zoning decided it would be “quicker to reword the current code rather than try to remap and try to rezone the town.”
At the July 12 meeting, Councilor Luke Hoopes inquired if Planning and Zoning were going to continue to move forward with a mapping of the town and Lofgreen advised it would and said he would provide timely updates to the council.
The approval of the new housing codes coincides with the lifting of the multi-family housing moratorium and the town will accept applications for building permits for multi-family construction.
Pima continues to have numerous new homes under construction and the town council previously approved a 40-lot “Upper Canyon” subdivision from Craig Bloomfield of Velocity Builders. The plat calls for 40 lots with the average size being around three/quarters of an acre. The homes are expected to be about 2,000 square feet in size. While the subdivision will be paved, the half-mile of 400 North from 1200 West (Patterson Mesa) to be utilized to reach the proposed subdivision will be improved to a gravel road which the town could then chip seal, according to Bloomfield.