We are excited to share that the town of Walsenburg, Colorado has changed its zoning ordinance to allow for tiny houses. In a 5-1 vote at a town hall meeting, city council approved Ordinance 1045, allowing tiny houses to be built in R-1 and R-2 zoned residential lots. It amends Article XIII of the Zoning Ordinance and adds a new section (6.2F) “to vary the minimum floor area for single family detached dwellings within R-1 and R-22 districts”.
As with Spur, Texas (who recently decreed that tiny houses be allowed in the town and which you can read about HERE), tiny houses must be placed permanently on a footer or foundation. They must also be tapped into water and sewer systems. Personally, this seems very fair as small towns like Walsenburg need an influx of new residents paying taxes and utilities. By making this zoning change, they hope to attract a vibrant population to help increase their numbers. We are not clear on if it will be sufficient to take the wheels off of a mobile tiny house and place it on a pier foundation system (like they have outlined in Spur).
Andrew taught a straw bale workshop in Walsenburg this summer and had really positive things to say about the area. It is in the heart of the Spanish Peaks and right off of I25 for easy access. The population is 3,000 so it has a small town feel. The town administrators seem fairly progressive and welcome straw bale construction as well as tiny houses. Though the town has seen better days, one can see the potential. Another advantage to this town is that it is fairly close to some larger ones (30 min Colorado City, 45 min Pueblo, 40 min Trinidad) which could allow someone to live in Walsenburg and have a job within a reasonable distance.
The subdivision that Andrew did the straw bale workshop on is called Black Diamond. Each lot is 3/4 acre (approx), has city water ($4,000 tap fee), electricity, and even cable. The development is back dropped by the Spanish Peaks and is up against a green belt adjoining a nine hole golf course on Lathrop State Park. There is a lake very close by for recreation as well. Taxes on each lot are $250 per year and last we heard lots could be found for about $17,000 each. One issue with that subdivision is that they do have a home owner’s association (HOA) and they could have a minimum square footage requirement. If you would like to get a hold of the subdivision owners email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I can tell you their contact information. There are also inexpensive lots all around the area so plenty of options exist.
We will be following up in more detail with this story by interviewing the City Administrator and Building Inspector this week (hopefully) and plan on asking them for specifics so that their model can be taken to other Administrators around the country. If you have questions that you would like us to ask them, please let us know in the comments below.
**FOLLOW UP: Our friend Elaine was kind enough to share with us the new Zoning Documentation (click HERE) as well as the Zoning Map from Walsenburg (click HERE). You can use the new zoning docs as a model to give to your local zoning department if you are trying to legalize tiny houses in your area **