Tiny home owner pleads case to Sussex council

Officials ponder whether or not small RV can remain in place as a tourist home
April 29, 2022

Story Location:
26182 Cave Neck Road
Milton, DE 19968
United States

The owner of a tiny home near Milton pleaded her case to Sussex County Council during an April 26 public hearing.

Ashley DiMichele’s testimony comes after the Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission recommended denial of the conditional-use application she filed for a tourist home on a 2.8-acre lot she and her husband own at 26182 Cave Neck Road.

DiMichele has listed her 210-square-foot tiny home as a rental on Airbnb since last spring.

She said at first she was told by county staff that she needed a building permit after she was given a code violation notice.

However, it was later determined a building permit was not required because the tiny home is an RV on wheels.

Sussex County Director of Planning & Zoning Jamie Whitehouse said a conditional-use application was the best path forward since code is not set up to deal with tiny homes. He said applying for a tourist home is her best option.

The public record includes 10 letters in support of DiMichele’s application.

In her April 26 testimony, DiMichele questioned some provisions in county code relating to campgrounds and dwellings.

“It meets the efficiency apartment standards and the square-footage requirements in the building code, but not in council’s ordinance,” she said.

DiMichele said the tiny home is self-contained and not hooked up to any systems. Built in Lancaster, Pa., it is road ready and contains its own kitchen with a stove, water system and composting toilet.

During public testimony, Mike Rhue of Seaford said there is a large segment of county residents who need affordable housing. “People would benefit with a tiny home zone, especially for those who are keeping the tourist business going in this area. If someone asks where they could put up a tiny home, the answer should not be they are not allowed. A district should be available. You need to seriously consider this.”

District 3 Councilman Mark Schaeffer said most people are not opposed to tiny homes, but, he said, council will have to decide if the use is appropriate on a single-family lot with an existing home.

“To be clear, this is an application for a tourist home,” said Council President Mike Vincent.

Council deferred a vote to a future meeting.


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