Brought to our attention by Fountain, NC resident Sophie Szymeczek, it seems early in December 2016, Pitt County commissioners delayed action on amendments to the rules governing tiny houses and recreational vehicles at Monday night’s public hearing due to some troubling language. Szymeczek said the new language doesn’t explain what a tiny house is and that it defines it as a recreational vehicle, which she argues they are not. She also feels the commissioners amendments don’t accurately reflect what tiny homes are either. Szymeczek also questioned if the rules would prevent someone from purchasing a tiny home from an out-state-builder and shipping it to Pitt County.

The commissioners directed Planning Director James Rhodes to meet with a few of the concerned citizens including Szymeczek and explore ways to help them before a vote on changing text in the county’s zoning ordinance.

Rhodes said his office is requesting the text update to match definition provided by the state. The proposed changes define the difference between a tiny house and a recreational vehicle, he said. The new definition states a tiny house and its foundation must comply with the state’s residential building code. If it is built off-site and transported, it must be inspected and certified under the state’s modular construction program. If it is built through the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development’s manufactured housing construction program, it will be permitted and inspected as a manufactured home.

This ruling comes on the heels of a much publicized victory for tiny housers at a recent meeting of the International Code Council (ICC), the organization that creates the International Residential Code (IRC) model building code used throughout the United States. At the meeting an appendix specifically addressing tiny houses passed the final round of voting, after receiving two-thirds majority vote. This means that, pending confirmation by a validation committee and the ICC board (a formality, mostly), the appendix’s specifications will officially be incorporated into the 2018 edition of the IRC. This new ruling is in direct opposition to Pitt Counties assertion that if a tiny house does not comply with either set of aforementioned rules and is built on a trailer frame with axles and wheels, it is considered a recreational vehicle and is not acceptable as a permanent dwelling.

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