Letter: A ‘tiny’ opportunity for Warner

Sunday, May 13, 2018

I applaud Joe Mendola’s efforts to develop tiny houses on leased land in Warner. The debate as to the definition of a “tiny house” should not be an obstacle, but rather should be a stepping stone to bringing planning into the 21st century.

Does it really matter what the housing type is called? These are very small houses, plain and simple. Whether they are stick built, panelized or manufactured should not matter. What matters is whether the design of the plat complies with zoning, setbacks, etc. These houses will appeal to lower-income buyers – folks who can’t afford to pay $200,000-plus for a house. This price range is very much underserved in New Hampshire.

Some issues: How does the landlord control lot use and maintenance? Multiple vehicles (some unregistered)? Deferred maintenance? Clutter? Tiny houses leave little indoor space for storage so “stuff” can end up outdoors. Due to the land lease the landlord can control these issues. Even more control can be had if the landlord rents the buildings as well. That way, the landlord would take care of maintenance and property taxes. Tenants would pay rent plus utilities.

Lastly, how do you finance tiny houses on leased land? Would it comply with secondary market requirements for financing? This would be problematic. Leasing land and buildings would eliminate this issue.

Mendola is trying something new. If the Planning Board and residents are forward-thinking and supportive, all will be applauded for their leadership and foresight.