Tiny home community in Milner gets green light; set for completion by spring 2020
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Milner will see the development of its first tiny home community after Routt County Board of Commissioners approved the project during its Tuesday meeting.
The planned construction of six units, each ranging in size from 200 to 260 square feet, has sparked controversy among nearby residents, who fear the development will tarnish the rural integrity of the community and exacerbate crucial resources, such as water.
Commissioners approved the plan on a 2-1 vote, with Commissioner Doug Monger opposed.
Their vote was the final step in the approval process, following the unanimous green light from the Routt County Planning Commission during its September meeting.
Michael Buccino, a member of the Steamboat Planning Commission and owner of Micro Living LLC, has been spearheading the tiny homes project, known as Cheney Creek Tiny Homes. He hopes it will provide more affordable housing options.
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He was relieved by the commissioners’ decision after months of property analyses and regulatory hurdles.
“I have been working so hard to make this a reality,” he said.
The homes will be built on a lot just south of U.S. Highway 40 in unincorporated Milner. Two single-family homes otherwise could have been built on the space, according to county planner Alan Goldich.
Buccino plans to sell the tiny homes for about $160,000 each. By comparison, the average residential home price in Routt County was $686,781 at the end of 2018, according to a report from the Land Title Guarantee Company.
Emily Gerde, a tiny home resident and advocate who lives in Hayden, sees the Cheney Creek development as a solution to a regional housing shortage.
As a millennial, a tiny home was an affordable option when she was looking to buy a house in Routt County for her family of four, particularly with the financial burden of student debt.
“I really love to see this county opening to tiny homes,” she said. “It’s really what our generation needs.”
Others are not so optimistic.
Twenty Milner residents signed a letter, published in Steamboat Pilot & Today on Monday, opposing the development.
‘The majority of the neighborhood has voiced their opposition to this development as proposed,” they said in the letter. “Placing six homes on a lot just over a quarter acre in size is unsustainable in the local community.”
Monger, in his explanation of his dissenting vote, voiced similar concerns to those residents.
“I’m not against tiny homes. It’s just not the right place for that many in that place,” he said.
Sheila Weekly, a Milner resident whose property is adjacent to the site of the tiny home development, proposed in previous meetings that the commissioners limit the number of houses to four instead of six. She believes that would be a more sustainable number for the area’s water supply.
The commissioners kept the six-unit project after a report from Civil Design Consultants, a local engineering firm, found the water demands would be no greater than from the two single-family homes that could be built there.
With the commissioners’ approval, Buccino plans to have the six tiny homes built by March 2020.
Paul Weese, the broker overseeing the sale of the tiny homes, said he has received multiple inquiries about purchasing a unit. He currently has six potential residents and expects a spike in interest following the commissioners’ approval.
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