ST. CLOUD – A tiny house intended for the homeless remains empty in St. Cloud.
A zoning board of appeals has denied a request by St. John's Episcopal Church to allow the house to be used as a residential structure, the St. Cloud Times reported.
The 132-square-foot house sits on wheels and is on the church grounds. The St. Cloud Coalition of Homeless Men had hoped to place a resident there when the house was donated to the group in May.
But the St. Cloud Zoning Board of Appeals last month denied a request to amend the church's conditional-use permit to allow the house to be used as a residential structure there.
"We really don't know what the next option is," said Tina Lamberts, coalition president.
Meanwhile, the prospective resident is still sleeping on a friend's couch.
The house was donated by the Central Minnesota Jobs & Training Services: Youth Build of Willmar, Minn.
Electricity to the tiny house is provided by plugging into an exterior outlet. A continuous water supply can be maintained by attaching a hose, but it also contains a 32-gallon freshwater tank. The toilet is a marine model, operating like a diaper pail, and the waste eventually can be disposed of in the trash.
The house most closely resembles a recreational vehicle, and that's where the problem lies. RVs are not permitted for use as full-time residences under city zoning laws.
"We certainly aren't opposed to finding houses for the homeless," said Drew Hultgren, chairman of the appeals board. "It was rejected simply because there isn't anything in the land development code that would have permitted it."
Hultgren said that because the closest classification the house fits is an RV, "unless the code changes, it was the board's consensus that we couldn't approve it."
The coalition decided not to appeal the decision to the St. Cloud City Council because of the additional expense required to continue a process that had already cost $600.
"What we need to find out now is if there is a way it can be classified as something other than an RV," Lamberts said. "Or if there's not, is there any option we can find that would provide a way to allow a person to live there?"