Opponents Gear Up For Round Two In Fight Against Tamarac “Tiny Home” Development

photo by CR Chambers

D-day Looming for Controversial Manufactured Housing Project

~ by Bob Volpe ~

After a surprise ruling handed down by the Woodland Park Board of Adjustment (BOA) that would force the developer of a highly contested manufactured housing project in the Tamarac subdivision to vastly revise the spacing of the units, the future of the “tiny home” development remains unknown.

Planning Director Sally Riley

According to Planning Director Sally Riley, “The project is in a “stay” until after the Sept. 11 appeal hearing, so no revised plans can be submitted/accepted.”

Developer, Pete LaBarre was scheduled to present his appeal of the BOA decision to city council at least week’s regular meeting, but the controversial issue surrounding the future of the “Village at Tamarac” was tabled until the September 19 council meeting. LaBarre plans to build 53 manufactured homes on 6.68 acres in the subdivision.

The “village” would offer one and two-bedroom homes with seven optional layouts. Each unit will have at least 500 square feet of living space. Plans for each unit include a front porch, with the option of having a back porch as well.

The home prices would start at about $115,000, and owners would pay $600 to $700 a month to lease their lot. According to previous article in The (Colorado Springs) Gazette, LaBarre explained he is trying to meet the need for more affordable housing in Woodland Park. He said, “The reality is that the housing shortage, in all price ranges, is really critical. There’s a whole segment of our society that can’t afford a $250,000, $300,000 home. They can’t get financing. They’re stuck with renting. The zoning and codes haven’t kept up with the quality of product that’s being factory built, whether it’s a tiny towable park model, a manufactured home, or a modular home.”

Robert Jewel, who is one of the representatives of the group that made the previous appeal to the BOA, told TMJ News that the meeting was well attended and quite lengthy. According to Riley, the appeal meeting went past 11 p.m. “I’m told this effectively sends the whole project back to the drawing board, unless the developers or the city appeal that part of the board’s decision.” said Jewell.

According to Jewel, the second group opposing the project will present their appeal on September 11 at 6:30 at the city council chambers. This group is asking that approval for this project be denied, Jewel stated, “We believe that the community is facing a bigger issue than just this development. If the Village at Tamarac is allowed to proceed, the city of Woodland Park will be changed forever, because the city will set a precedent requiring it to approve all such future projects. After that, it will be ‘open season’ on Woodland Park, and these crowded, congested developments will pop up everywhere.”

Riley told TMJ News that this project had to be approved since the zoning allowed for such a development, but that the issue of these manufactured homes needs to be looked at closer when the city reviews its comprehensive plan.

The Tamarac project has stirred up a hornet’s nest of opposition, so much so that city staff proposed an “emergency” ordinance to place a 90-day moratorium on similar projects until officials had a chance to review zoning codes. Ordinance 1353 would place a 90-day moratorium on applications for single-family uses in multifamily zones.

The ordinance drew heated debate among council members and ultimately failed. Council members, Carrol Harvey, Hilary LaBarre, Kellie Case, and Mayor Pro Tem Val Carr all agreed that the ordinance did not reach the definition of an emergency and that the issue should go through the normal channels.

The decision not to pass the emergency ordinance did not put the matter to bed. The entire council agreed that city staff should resubmit the ordinance without the word emergency in it. Council also agreed that the planning department should immediately begin a review of zoning codes as they pertain to the Tamarac-style manufactured housing bid.

A revised ordinance is now on the agenda for the next council meeting on September 19. This could draw a large crowd, especially since LaBarre’s appeal regarding the earlier BOA decision will also be heard that night