Tiny Houses Legalized In Walsenburg, CO

Walsenburg tiny housesWe 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).

Walsenburg tiny housesAndrew 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.

Walsenburg tiny housesThe 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 (gabriella@tinyhousebuild.com) 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 **

REFERENCES: 

http://huerfanojournal.com/new_site/tiny-homes-will-be-allowed-under-variance/

http://www.chieftain.com/news/2958692-120/homes-tiny-stambaugh-walsenburg#sthash.IgZ3pccD.dpuf

44 Responses to Tiny Houses Legalized In Walsenburg, CO

  1. bob October 12, 2014 at 6:38 pm #

    And so it continues! First Spur, and now Walsenburg. This is outstanding. Though I am not in a position to take advantage I am all in favor with this kind of change and hope this continues to spread throughout the country.
    One question I would like to know if I were able to move to a tiny house… actually two I guess, are these:
    1. would they allow a grid tied solar PV system on a tiny house located on a city lot? I would think so since almost any “regular” big house could install such a system.
    2. would they allow a composting toilet and to use the sewer connection for only grey water disposal? I am thinking something along the lines of the Separett that you guys use. I guess this question includes the possibility of diverted urine to be collected and used with added water to suppliment ornamental plantings on the property. Besides, over the last many years I’ve become more and more conflicted about using a flush toilet and only see it as a massive waste of good relatively “clean” drinking water when there are such other options that are very good alternatives available.

    • Gabriella
      Gabriella October 14, 2014 at 11:19 am #

      Great questions Bob! I will be sure to ask them and include them in the follow up.

    • MLC August 26, 2016 at 12:58 pm #

      Yeah, well Spur is selling their lots for $500 and NO HOAs!

  2. Mara October 13, 2014 at 8:06 am #

    Good questions, Bob. I’ll be eager to read answers to them as well. MG in NC

  3. Shell October 13, 2014 at 9:39 pm #

    This is wonderful news! May it spread throughout the WHOLE country. For it is my dream to have a simple home, a little garden, chickens, and just to live more simple in general. This gives me much hope. : ) Thanks for posting this.

    Namaste

  4. Elle October 16, 2014 at 1:06 am #

    I didn’t understand. Is the amendment for Zone 1 and 2 or Zone 1 and 22?

    I’d like to clarify whether the changes will effect my land which has a Walsenburg address but is not in town. Probably not. Even so, if there are changes happening to zoning which lies inside the immediate town limits then an argument could be made/presented to architectural boards outside of such where owners labour under square footage restrictions.

    • Gabriella
      Gabriella October 20, 2014 at 12:54 pm #

      Elle, I wasn’t clear on that either. The information came from a couple of websites. I will try to clarify that with them as well.

  5. Andrew Hicks October 20, 2014 at 11:25 am #

    Thanks Gabriella for mentioning Black Diamond Park!

    What is the sq ft range of tiny houses please?

    • Gabriella
      Gabriella October 20, 2014 at 12:53 pm #

      Andrew, usually around 150-400sf

  6. Elle October 21, 2014 at 12:28 am #

    Gabriella, thanks for checking on the zoning. I will also attempt to locate the proper office for more info.

    In addition, I know this much–most zoning in developments outside the town of Walsenburg state a 600sf minimum, no wheels (no “campers”)–meaning mobile homes must be on a permanent base as well as pinned-in, if allowed. Black Diamond is a newer development with smaller sized lots. Navaho Resorts, a much older community, offers larger parcels. Both are located on Hwy160 west of town. The views of the Spanish Peaks and surrounding ranges from these areas are extraordinary and eye-poping. It’s country with a touch of town not too far away. Lathrop State Park is the site of the lake. It’s large, open and I hear, well stocked. There is also an astoundingly beautiful veteran retirement home/care center overlooking the range on the same hwy. Not a VA fan myself, nevertheless, the facility is really, really nice.

    • Doug Drummond November 7, 2014 at 5:20 pm #

      Very impressed with this post. I wish someone in Calgary Alberta would start this ! So affordable ! If anyone hears of one just outside the city limits. Please email me at doug.drumman@gmail.com

  7. Mike Gartman November 10, 2014 at 11:04 am #

    Does anyone know if there are any tiny houses in the town as of yet, or that anyone is planning to move there?

    • Gabriella
      Gabriella November 10, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

      As far as I know Mike, not as of right now. However, I am not totally connected to what is happening there. Keep us posted if you find out more!

    • Kay June 14, 2015 at 6:21 pm #

      Hi I live here and there are no tiny houses. To be honest if black dimond is the area people are looking into it isn’t worth the drama but any where else it’s great.

      • Gabriella
        Gabriella June 15, 2015 at 9:11 am #

        Hi Kay! The code provisions changed just recently and so I think it takes a while for people to actually make the move there. Actually, I don’t believe that Black Diamond would be a fit for tiny houses bc the code changes I don’t believe apply to that subdivision (and I think they have their own minimum square footage requirements? Not sure though).

  8. Doreen November 29, 2014 at 1:02 pm #

    I would love to gather more information about how this was accomplished- I would love to work with advocacy and tiny homes. It seems these towns are unique in that they are looking for more residents etc- in the congested north east we have too many people but not as much as say washing dc where we could argue there is a need for housing or a need for more residents as there are in the rural areas. The issue here is cost. I am being boxed out of my 900 sq foot home due to the cost of living. while my mortgage has remained the same since 2003, the cost of food, gas, and utilities have nearly doubled and I would love to be mortgage free and live off grid- If anyone has any ideas about advocacy or words of wisdom feel free to message me! XO tiny housers!!!

    • Luchi September 11, 2015 at 9:10 pm #

      I would love to live in a tiny house for the same reasons, but the only thing that

      is going to be a major issue for me is I don’t drive no way to get into town for

      groceries or doctor appts if I were to move out there, don’t drive, wish they

      would approve them in the cities for folks like me that can’t get around unless

      you live in the city.

  9. Maxime Robillard December 1, 2014 at 2:33 pm #

    That’s what we are doing in the small town of Lantier, Québec, Canada. The city changed the rules to let us build houses starting at 350 sq ft. We are completing the two model houses and the project we are planning to have about 12 houses by the end of the summer! Check it out: http://www.habitatmultigenerations.com

    • Gabriella
      Gabriella December 2, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

      That is wonderful Maxime!! So glad to see that news. 🙂

  10. bob December 8, 2014 at 8:02 pm #

    Looks like there is at least one who is taking advantage of moving their Tiny House to Spur, TX. An article in USA Today online (http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2014/08/30/tiny-homes-living/14052371/) Jeremy Hensley moved his Tiny House there. I don’t know that he’s bought property and placed it yet but there it is.

    • Gabriella
      Gabriella December 9, 2014 at 8:11 am #

      Thank you so much for this article link Bob!

  11. Barbara August 17, 2015 at 3:43 pm #

    I stumbled across the “news” concerning Tiny Home living-friendly Walsenburg. I am originally from New Mexico and am currently living in a Tiny Home unfriendly state in the SE. I am also a senior on a budget and interested in the cost of living in Walsenburg, as well as the opportunities for camping, kayaking and hiking in the Walsenburg area. Not quite sure where you are, but how close to the NM border are you? I’m planning a possible move to your town within 4 years. Can you recommend a website that would give me a good “feel” for life, weather, amenities, etc. in Walsenburg?
    Thanks. Barbara

    • Gabriella
      Gabriella August 21, 2015 at 12:52 pm #

      HI Barbara! Walsenburg looks to be less than 60 miles from the NM border on I25. In terms of things to do in the area, I don’t know what websites cover that topic but I’m guessing that if you do a search online for “what to do in Walsenburg” that some websites will pop up. Good luck! 🙂

    • /bob August 22, 2015 at 12:54 pm #

      Any time I am interested in these things in and around a city I start with the City Data web site which has a LOT of information about a city. I compare with national averages (shown on the page) and also compare with my own area (I open a second web page for my own city and look back and forth to compare). Go here: http://www.city-data.com/city/Walsenburg-Colorado.html

      Also, Wikapedia has a lot of area information and history listed as well as links on the bottom of that page to other sites online for the information you are looking for.
      Go here for that: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walsenburg,_Colorado

    • nancy January 30, 2016 at 11:30 pm #

      Barbara, I just found these comments about the tiny home community for Walsenburg, and your interest. I used to live in the area about 6 years ago and liked it. Coming up from Taos to 160 is a good route. I would look up Walsenburg, online for the history and all it involves. I think there is a Chamber of Commerce. I read phone books!! It was a mining area years ago. It is hotter and flatter there, but just a few miles to La Veta or Cuchara for the mountains. There are 2 groceries, and several dollar stores, gift shops, restaurants etc. Nice new library. The lake is near. Lots of opportunities to enjoy. Rather older and needs revitalizing, but laid back. There are a lot of older small homes there also for sale. I am older too, and would feel comfortable there. The 2 towns I mentioned are more high end touristy in cost of living. Also not far to the bigger towns. I like NM, myself, but know it is costly. You should take a small trip there and check it out. 🙂 There is snow, but not too much. Feel free to write if I can help!! Nancy

    • Mike Woodyard May 31, 2017 at 2:23 pm #

      I have read alot of stuff about corp. trying to charge me for the rest of my life about buying land and putting a tiny house on it and charging me some kind a fee to live there but thats not what I want. Why would I want that? What I want is to buy a small lot with water, sewer, and elect. and move my tiny house there for good. Is that even possible now or have the corps. taken over to make money from people who just trying to live a good life.

  12. Bob August 20, 2015 at 11:39 am #

    Walsenburg is now my preference for the time when I am able to build a tiny house. About the same size as the town we initially moved to when we moved back to Iowa. Similar weather with very slightly warmer, but dryer, summers and warmer winters with much less snowfall. Lot’s of sun, twice what we get here (very good for solar energy). Plus, the indicated variance approved in the article above (and confirmed in many other published articles) only requires connection to city water and sewer (which I would only use for the water supply and for grey water waste from kitchen sink and bathroom sink and shower drains). A composting toilet would not drain into the sewer connection. With the original ordinance that was approved in July 2014 put together with this variance to allow tiny houses there is a mandate specifically stated to avoid blocking the sun for solar energy. Solar electric would be my preference for a tiny house. I have no desire for a home-built RV, which I do not believe a tiny house is anyway, so I am fine with setting a tiny house on a permanent foundation. This code variance, and the variance in Spur, TX, eliminates the restriction that gave rise to THE reason for building a tiny house on a trailer in the first place. 🙂

  13. Scott Chauvin August 28, 2015 at 11:25 am #

    Been there. Love the Dog Bar in Cuchara and La Veta !!!

  14. /bob September 16, 2015 at 8:25 am #

    This is just like me. I get interested in something and obsess about it and research it to death. I’ve been perusing Google street view of Walsenburg and found 5-6 lots of interest, at least 4 are empty lots with for sale signs on them. At least 2 are larger corner lots that are a whole quarter of the block they are on. Another lot has an old house and shed/garage that is falling apart but cannot tell if it is abandoned or lived in (no 4sale sign). That would be a good property to rebuild and reuse making it into a smaller home using as much of the existing materials as possible. Interested in any of those. Now, if only the opportunity were to happen for me (or anyone else). My wife is still not on board with that smaller or even tiny house movement yet but signs of making baby steps. She has been getting rid of a lot of stuff recently. Cut her clothes in the closet by almost half and slowly selling/donating a lot of school teaching supplies she won’t need now that she’s retired.

    • nancy January 30, 2016 at 11:40 pm #

      Bob, Just found this site and the comments. I used to live in the area 6 years ago. You might check out realtor.com or landwatch or a realtor site for Walsenburg. I lived in La Veta, but shopped in W. Also lots of small homes for sale. It is an older town and needs some revitalization but laid back. A small trip to check it out would be good to see if you and your wife like it. A nice library, 2 groceries, dollar stores, restaurants. Close to I 25 and the larger towns. La Veta and Cuchara are close for the mountains! Property is very reasonable in Walsenburg for now. I am not sure where the new development is to be. I personally would like a lot elsewhere like you mentioned. Living smaller is refreshing. Good luck if you chose CO. It is a gorgeous state and mere hours to anywhere beautiful!

    • Phyllis Price August 8, 2016 at 6:59 pm #

      I have six lots I would be willing to sell in Walsenburg—-not listed. In town near the schools and Library. The town requires two lots per tiny home so this could be a good investment for someone.

      • /bob August 9, 2016 at 5:14 am #

        That’s very interesting. I didn’t read that in the city ordinance/variance but may have just missed that detail. I suppose the requirement for two lots per Tiny House is to recoup some of the lowered property tax for the smaller home? I still consider that a bargain for having a place to build and live in a Tiny House as a permanent residence. Which is really just what the movement needs to continue forward. Any knowledge on progress of the Tiny House community/village in the old field between the library and the cemetery?

      • Gwen February 22, 2017 at 8:04 am #

        Hello! Do you still have the lots for sale? And how much? Gwenco@yahoo.com.
        Thanks

      • Gwen February 22, 2017 at 8:06 am #

        Do you still have lots for sale? Gwenco@yahoo.com
        Thanks..

  15. J.S. Thompson February 20, 2016 at 2:54 am #

    In case I just missed it, here is the link to see the CCR documents for black diamond sub.

    http://www.classiccountryland.com/media/black-diamond-park/20090711-covenants.pdf

    • Gabriella
      Gabriella February 20, 2016 at 11:05 am #

      Thank you J.S.!

  16. Phyllis March 27, 2016 at 1:57 pm #

    Is the tiny house movement moving forward in Walsenburg? Does anyone know how many tiny homes have been built at that location. I’m interested and will have a tiny home built in 2017. Walsenburg would be a good location for me.

  17. /bob March 27, 2016 at 3:16 pm #

    Here is a link to the company planning the community in Walsenburg:
    http://sprouttinyhomes.com/salida-community/
    Haven’t read anywhere what the current status is at this time in Walsenburg. Sprout Tiny Houses builds tiny and small houses and this web page indicates they are doing so, or working on doing so, in a number of places other than Walsenburg.

    Here is another link about additional info on the ordinance change and progress toward enabling Tiny Houses to be built:
    http://www.outsideonline.com/2042806/worlds-first-tiny-home-suburb-coming-colorado-mountain-town-near-you

  18. Tim October 25, 2016 at 10:57 pm #

    It’s not affordable if one has to pay 4000.00 to connect into the water.

  19. heather January 26, 2017 at 11:17 am #

    Inam curious in walsenburg county. Rural residential where i can find the laws. I want to build a cabin but dont want city water poeer sewage an seens thats even less acceptable. But seems here an texas are the least on building an zilonimg codes.

    • heather January 26, 2017 at 11:18 am #

      I am so sorry for all of the spelling lol. New phone an keyboard lol

  20. Todd July 15, 2017 at 7:19 pm #

    What are the zoning Codes For Cuchara!?

  21. Kathy S September 11, 2017 at 3:24 pm #

    I am interested in being a part of getting a tiny house community going in Walsenburg. I am a retired High School English Teacher who is an avid tiny house fan; I volunteer with the Tiny House Atlanta group and believe this type of housing/lifestyle offers solutions to so many issues we face in our modern society. There are several successful legal communities already up and running in different states so it can be done!
    There is power in numbers and there is no better time than the present! I look forward to hearing from anyone interested in pursuing this at this time.

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