P&Z Commission discusses outdoor screening, tiny homes

An outside view of a tiny house such as being discussed in Kingman.

An outside view of a tiny house such as being discussed in Kingman.

KINGMAN – City planning and zoning commissioner Terry Shores doesn’t think the ordinance covering screens for outside storage areas has been working as intended.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the Planning and Zoning Commission approved ordinance text amendments regarding allowable storage-area fencing and asked for more information on the potential for tiny homes to be permitted in particular areas of Kingman.

“It just becomes tattered and it doesn’t look very appealing, it doesn’t hold up,” Shores, the vice chair of the commission, said of using landscaping material.

Before Tuesday, Kingman’s zoning ordinance allowed outside storage areas to be screened with landscaping material. Landscaping material, made from woven polypropylene fabric, does not absorb weather. The Commission voted unanimously to amend the ordinance to no longer allow those materials in addition to vinyl-coated polyester.

Before making a motion, commissioners discussed why landscaping materials should be removed from the ordinance. Commissioners noted that the primary concern is Arizona’s windy conditions.

Staff research discovered that the cities of Bullhead and Lake Havasu do not allow landscaping material to act as outdoor screening, and neither does Mohave County.

Acceptable screening materials within Kingman include chain-link fencing with double-picket weaving, masonry walls, stucco fences, redwood and cedar board fencing, painted corrugated metal and vinyl PVC products specifically made for fencing.

Tiny homes are becoming popular throughout the U.S., and the phenomenon has recently made its way to Kingman. Staff research explained that Kingman currently has two zoning districts that allow tiny homes, Rural Residential and Residential Manufactured Homes. However, these homes must be set on permanent foundations, meaning tiny homes on wheels would not be permitted unless located in RV parks.

Kingman’s ordinance states that lots recorded before 1945, as many of the R-MH lots were, must have a minimum building site of 5,000 square feet. Commission discussed Tuesday amending or changing the ordinance to allow tiny homes to be built on lots of 2,500 square feet as long as sewer and water services are available. One such area is behind Kingman Regional Medical Center, 3269 Stockton Hill Road.

As long as they meet building code, these homes can be constructed out of storage containers, which raised questions from commissioners Laurie DeVries and Scott McCoy. McCoy verified these storage containers being stacked on top of one another was in code, and DeVries was curious as to the implications for fire personnel in regards to extinguishing fires and evacuating the homes.

Keith Eaton, assistant chief at the Kingman Fire Department, fire official and current building official said the containers would still have to meet all International Residential Code requirements, including those regarding height. He also said that fire personnel are equipped to perform within tiny homes constructed out of storage containers.

“Since we’ve been researching this, almost every county in Northern Arizona and a lot of Arizona, have already moved forward with these building permits and have made their adjustments,” Eaton said. “So we have a lot to go on as far as research, and we have done that.”

No motion was made pertaining to amending or changing ordinances to allow for tiny home construction. Instead, commissioners asked for additional research on what other nearby Arizona municipalities are doing and called for additional input from citizens who reside in neighborhoods that would be affected.

Editor's note: The story was edited to show Scott McCoy verifying that two containers stacked on top of each is in accordance with the City building code.