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Utica says no to tiny house in subdivision

Calif. man wished to move onto mother’s property

A petition to locate a small mobile home was denied by the Utica Village Board after much discussion from residents at a Utica Planning Commission meeting.

Big Sur, Calif. resident Ethan Tamborini requested to locate a small mobile home on property owned by his mother in the Byczynski Subdivision, 511 W. Washington St.

If Tamborini’s request had been recommended, Village Attorney Herb Klein said the commission would have had to determine the “tiny house” was not a mobile home.

But if it was decided the tiny house was a mobile home, a special use request would have had to be granted for a mobile home in the residential district without an installation date or lot size restriction. Then a recommendation would have had to be made for a variance to allow a home of less than 1,000 square feet in the residential district.

Tamborini, a former Utica resident, wanted to come home to be near his family. He and his mother knew the issue would be his high-end 350 square foot mobile home purchased for $120,000. High-end amenities included solar panels, redwood interior, full kitchen, stone surfaces and more.

Tamborini told the Planning Commission he planned to take the home’s wheels off, leave it on axles and put a border around everything to hide them and pour a concrete slab for the home placement. But he also said while the tiny house didn’t look like a regular trailer, it still was considered a trailer.

During the public hearing, several objections were raised by residents opposed to the petition. Questions and objections included how his mobile home would affect home values, and the fact that this would be the only mobile home in a neighborhood of residential homes. The majority of residents expressed the opinion that “it was nothing personal, it’s just not a good location for this.”

Chairman Tom Guttilla responded to a question by Tamborini’s mother on why the family had to complete all the paperwork if the request was never feasible.

“The purpose of a public hearing is to let everyone know what any petition or request is all about,” Guttilla replied. “This issue was definitely unique because Ethan’s mobile home is very different from a normal trailer. Because of that, the petition was not a clear cut request so it wasn’t something that could have been automatically approved or denied with little discussion.”

Commission member Warren Munson said he couldn’t recommend Tamborini’s request.

“The commission has spent hours adopting ordinances and reviewing codes,” Munson said. “We have to ask ourselves how each petition fits our codes. This doesn’t mean we don’t want anyone here. Ethan said he would be using a powered generator so another question would be about decibel levels. I just can’t favor this request.”

Commission member Doug Gift said the decision wasn’t a matter of hardships.

“The question is whether we should open a R-1 development to mobile homes when it was never anticipated by residents in the district that this would ever be an issue,” Gift said. “Ethan’s request simply does not meet village criteria for an R-1 District. We must uphold village codes and ordinances.”

Guttilla said “maybe there could be a tiny-house development in Utica’s future in a location that is not already platted for an R-1 subdivision.”

Immediately following the Plan Commission meeting, the Village Board held their regular board meeting and in a 6-0 vote, the board adopted the Plan Commission’s recommendation to deny Tamborini’s request.

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