Tiny Home Community Runs Into Zoning Problem - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Tiny Home Community Runs Into Zoning Problem

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A rendering of what some tiny home communities look like across the country. Port Hope Delaware plans to look somewhat similar. (Photo: Port Hope Delaware) A rendering of what some tiny home communities look like across the country. Port Hope Delaware plans to look somewhat similar. (Photo: Port Hope Delaware)
The group will build a model home on this trailer to showcase what their plans are. (Photo: WBOC) The group will build a model home on this trailer to showcase what their plans are. (Photo: WBOC)
Victory Church on Route 8 just outside of Dover city limits. (Photo: WBOC) Victory Church on Route 8 just outside of Dover city limits. (Photo: WBOC)
Part of the land in question that Victory Church wants to donate to Port Hope Delaware for construction of the community. (Photo: WBOC) Part of the land in question that Victory Church wants to donate to Port Hope Delaware for construction of the community. (Photo: WBOC)

DOVER, Del.- Port Hope Delaware, which is planning to build a tiny home community just outside of Dover city limits has been met with resistance from Kent County Levy Court, the county government.

Victory Church wants to provide more than four acres to Port Hope Delaware for the project. The 200-square-foot homes would be built in phases, and the tenants would pay a small rent fee.

WBOC reported that neighbors were outraged when they first learned of the project.

The church sits on Route 8 just outside of Dover city limits, so it is not under city jurisdiction. Kent County Levy Court is responsible for zoning in the area.

Sarah Keifer, director of planning for the county government, told WBOC the church sits outside of the growth zone so zoning regulations say only one home or building can be placed on an acre.

That delivered a blow to Port Hope Delaware's plan, which is to build a small village of tiny homes. Keifer said for the project to work in that location, the group would need to work to change zoning regulations. She says the first step would be changing the growth zone which partly regulates housing density. After that is changed, the group would need to work to change the actual zoning of the land. Both of those actions require a number of public hearings and votes.

Keifer says in her time at Kent County Levy Court, she has never seen a resident bring forth a campaign to do such a thing.

Aaron Appling is the pastor working with Port Hope to get it done, and he says there is a serious discussion that needs to happen.

"About some of these zoning laws that have absolutely nothing to do with safety," he said. "[They] purely have to do with not wanting a certain type of housing outside of an imaginary line."

Thomas Farrington is one of the church's neighbors, and he says the neighborhood is relieved.

"It's a little bittersweet," he said. "Because the homeless situation still hasn't been taken care of. But this would have been basically a wrong area for it to begin with. They wouldn't have had transportation, they wouldn't have had access to medical facilities."

Other neighbors expressed their relief, too.

"It's not because we don't [want to] take care of the homeless," said Sally Miller. "But I feel that Representative Paradee and the zoning people did what they needed to do and followed the law."

Port Hope Delaware met with some state legislators Thursday to tell them about the project. Appling says the homeless problem is rampant and here now.

"[The zoning laws] are causing a discrimination problem and not allowing us to provide safe, affordable housing for people that are in the lower income bracket or economically challenged," he said. 

Port Hope Delaware tells WBOC this speed bump only encourages them to work toward their end goal even more. Appling says they are not interested in fighting with the Kent County government but for the homeless population. He says the organization plans to mount a grassroots awareness campaign about this issue and hopefully get the zoning regulations changed. They have started circulating a petition for supportive residents of Delaware to sign. 

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