Ordinance 465 limits use of non-stationary structures as homes in Forest

By JAMES PHILLIPS,

The city of Forest has adopted and approved Ordinance 465 that would limit non-stationary structures becoming “single family dwellings” within the city limits.

Most everyone has either seen, or read about, the very popular practice of repurposing utility sheds and storage sheds as a residential home. There are numerous television shows that highlight the growing trend of tiny homes, and do-it-yourself transformations for these low-cost buildings. The lower cost, high availability and ease of attainability has led to many people buying or renting these buildings, having them delivered and moving right in to call them home.

Some citizens may believe that this ordinance is directed at this affordable and highly popular alternative to building or renting. Numerous aspects about this new trend are concerning to Forest Mayor Nancy Chambers, but she specifies safety as the leading factor, “we want safe affordable housing for everyone and a utility shed is just that, a utility shed,” Chambers said. 

City of Forest Code and Zone Officer, David Chamblee added, “we have been seeing more and more of these sheds in the past year.” Many people are “living in sheds that are not up to codes and not built for human occupancy.”

Chanblee went on to say, “sellers put features that make a shed appear to be a home but that does not make it safe.” 

When a building, that was not built to be a home, is purchased to serve as a family dwelling there are several problems that the owner can encounter. The city of Forest, through Ordinance 465, is working to clarify those problems and clearly state what the city will recognize as single and multi-family domiciles. Additionally, the city ordinance looks to define what a “dwelling” is within the city limits.

Ordinance 465 contains three sections that seek to mandate requirements for single family and multi-family dwellings. The following are brief descriptions of each section of the ordinance

• Section 1, includes “single-family dwellings situated in R-1 Zoning district.” The new ordinance mandates, living square footage, permanent foundation requirements and approval of home plans.

• Section 2, includes residential structures, dwelling units, detached dingle-family dwellings and multi-family dwellings in the R-2 and R-3 zoning districts. The ordinance mandates living square footage, permanent foundation requirements for custom built and permitted modular homes, and approval of required building plans.

 • Section 3, offers how the City of Forest defines “dwelling” as “a permanent building used for residential purposes must contain at least a kitchen, bathroom and sleeping area with no less than (70) square feet.” It is further determined what shall not be deemed a “dwelling” as, “motor homes, travel trailers, portable buildings, storage buildings, mobile homes regulated in the Mobile Homes Ordinance, or any other structure not designed specifically for permanent residential dwelling.”

Most often a problem occurs when a building is moved into a location without the owner checking the city code or contacting the city zoning board. Chambers said, “the city is attempting to have everyone understand when you bring something into the city it needs to meet code when you bring it in.”

It is practically impossible to drive around Scott County, or any county for that matter, and not see numerous utility sheds, storage sheds and portable buildings that have been transformed into residential homes. Some of these homes/storage buildings are extremely nice and would make a good home for anyone. But outside the city limits there are no zoning laws and therefore no legalities that restrict such set-ups.

However, when you are living inside the Forest city limits Chambers reminds, “know ahead of time the City of Forest has very active code and zoning departments.” Should any citizen have a question or concern, the mayor asks them to “stop by City Hall and ask the question” in order to avoid any problems.

Ordinance 465 was adopted and approved at the by the Mayor and Board of Alderman at the city council meeting held on May 1. If any citizens have any questions contact either City Hall or the Code and Zone Office.