By Boyd C. Allen

Pilot Staff Writer

Connie Vodika-Hunter, opening the Curry County Planning Commission meeting Thursday, spoke as an advocate for tiny houses.

She said she attended the Oregon Tiny House Symposium on March 13.

Hunter claimed a clearer understanding of the issues behind tiny houses and focussed on tiny houses as a means to create affordable housing in Curry County.

“The biggest issues that face the state, counties and municipalities have to do with two areas: building codes and zoning,” she said.

According to Hunter, it often takes four to seven years to develop new building codes and zoning restrictions. She suggested the county contact people who have already gone through that phase and work with them to speed the process.

She said, “I am here to suggest that the county Planning Department set up a multi-jurisdictional committee to develop one set of codes and regulations to cover the entire county.”

Board Chair John Brazil thanked her and took the documents she presented from the symposium.

The commission then considered revisions to zoning ordinances dealing with accessory dwelling units (ADUs).

ADUs are tiny homes or apartments built on an existing property alongside a pre-existing dwelling.

Revised documents provided by Community Development Director Carolyn Johnson deleted provisions mandating which way the entrance to an ADU could face and added requirements for septic and potable water.

They cut requirements that the main dwelling be occupied before the ADU so owners could build a smaller dwelling and live in it while the main house was built.

The revised ordinances also allow ADUs over a garage even if the main dwelling was one story, and they permit ADUs to differ architecturally from the main dwelling.

Johnson said ADUs will benefit the county by providing more housing and the county would ultimately amend the code to increase the use of ADUs.

Recent state law requires the acceptance of ADUs in urban growth areas if the municipality meets certain population levels, according to Johnson.

Commissioners expressed concerns ADUs would increase street parking and create unsafe conditions when they were added to streets built to handle fewer dwellings.

Commissioner Kevin McHugh feared an ADU could be added to a lot even if much of the lot was unbuildable, thus creating crowded and unattractive conditions.

Brazil wanted to know what system would be used to regulate the address of an ADU so emergency workers weren’t responding to the wrong dwelling on a property.

Johnson compiled a list of concerns and agreed to research these and other issues before a final ordinance was presented.

Commission size

Planning commissioners addressed a county board of commissioners (BOC) directive to reduce the size of the planning commission from nine to either five or seven seats.

Commissioners Brazil, Bob Morrow and Kevin McHugh voted to keep the number of seats at nine while commissioners Karen Kennedy and Diana St. Marie thought a seven-person board was adequate and would better serve the county.

“The nine positions are never filled, and there is no active support or recruiting,” Kennedy said.

St. Marie nodded her agreement.

At the time of the meeting, three of nine positions were vacant and two members, Brazil and Kennedy, indicated they would be quitting soon.

Brazil said he was quitting, citing a possible conflict of interest and a lack of support from the BOC.

Brazil, McHugh and Morrow prevailed and the measure was sent back to county commissioners recommending “no changes.”

Brazil asked Johnson to ask counsel if the quorum for the planning commision could be changed to require a majority of the seated positions instead of a majority of total positions.

She agreed to do so.

Other actions:

•Commissioners voted Morrow as the new chair and tabled a motion to make Shannon Pagano the vice chair because she was not present.

•The final plat for the Seascape subdivision was approved and sent to the BOC for signatures. The subdivision includes five lots on East Hoffeldt Lane in Brookings. Walter and Slawomira Zandt were the applicants.

Reach Boyd C. Allen at ballen@currypilot.com .

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