Tiny homes a big discussion at Gilmer commissioners meeting

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ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer County Board of Commissioners met in a called meeting Friday morning, Feb. 23, to discuss the impact of tiny homes in the county.

The focus of the meeting, Chairman Charlie Paris told the rest of the board, was to study the safety and county liability issues involved with tiny homes in regard to legal exposure to the county. Paris further explained in the coming three to four months, the county would look at other issues and concerns with tiny homes such as zoning and tax questions.

The board discussed the possibilities of equating tiny homes to either a recreational vehicle (RV) or mobile home. County Attorney David Clark, however, reminded the board of the possible mobility factor that come with some tiny homes asking at what point would that mobility stop and the tiny home be seen as a permanent structure. “There are a lot of moving factors here,” Clark stated.

To this, Lacy Ryan, deputy chief appraiser for Gilmer County, offered the tax assessors office’s definition of permanency  in regard to mobile units and explained that the county does not tax RVs unless the owner applies for a homestead exemption.

“Homesteads are not a reliable trigger,” Post 2 Commissioner Travis Crouch stated on the possibility of the county following a similar definition of permanency.

Post 1 Commissioner Dallas Miller brought up the issue of utility connections to tiny homes and added if the county allows a utility connection of any kind to a tiny home, the county would have a legal liability exposure.

The board also weighed the differences between stick-built, or on-site built, tiny homes and one that is prefabricated off-site. Paris explained a stick-built home of any kind would require a building permit and inspection from the county, which would eliminate the risk of liability exposure. As for prefabricated tiny homes as well as container homes, which were also discussed, with or without mobility options, the board agreed that a revision of the county ordinance should require an official engineering seal.

Treehouses were also mentioned in the discussion. Clark told the board he did not feel the county currently had anyone qualified to inspect treehouses. After a brief discussion, it was determined for the county to disallow the use of treehouses as a place of residence.

The board added a discussion item of trash pickup to the agenda Friday. At their regularly scheduled February meeting, the board weighed the option of adding four seasonal employees designated for trash pickup. However, at Friday’s meeting, Chairman Paris stated he and Public Works Director Jim Smith had met with Sheriff Stacy Nicholson recently about the possibility of using an inmate crew for this task.

Paris added this crew would consist of four or five non-risk inmates under the supervision of one deputy. He described this option as a better long-term solution and one that is typically more favorably viewed in the public perception.

The chairman also said although this would likely require the hiring of an additional deputy, no additional vehicles would need to be added to the sheriff’s office existing fleet of vehicles. He further explained the option would focus only on county-maintained roads and not state. The crew would work year-round and coordinate with the public works department to work ahead of the mowing schedule as previously discussed at the monthly meeting.

No official action was taken on the issue, but Paris stated the board would address it further at the March commissioners meeting.

 

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Author

Jason Beck

Born in Merrillville, Indiana, raised in Cleveland, Tennessee, and currently resides in Copperhill, Tennessee. Graduated from Bradley Central High School in 1996 and attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, eventually earning a B.A. and M.A. in English. Hobbies include hiking, camping and fly-fishing. Interests include baseball, hockey and cliff jumping.

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