Bangor might allow developers to construct miniature-sized homes within city limits to address a lack of housing that has plagued renters and would-be homeowners and played a role in the rising number of homeless residents.
The City Council on Wednesday will introduce an ordinance that would allow the city to host tiny home parks and refer it to the Planning Board.
Tiny homes are manufactured houses that are 400 square feet in area or less, and can be placed on lots or hosted on mobile platforms. The homes became popular via a social movement that advocated for people to downsize their living quarters.
The proposed ordinance defines a “tiny home park” as a property with two or more tiny homes, and would allow tiny homes in most areas of the city. Lots for a single tiny home would need to be at least 1,000 square feet and have at least one parking space per unit. Tiny homes would need to follow all other building code requirements, like needing to have indoor plumbing and be able to operate without a motor. The ordinance would not apply to other mobile home structures, like RVs, semis or trailers.
The minimum lot size for single-family homes in Bangor’s urban center and many of its neighborhoods, by comparison, is 5,000 square feet.
The city planning office first considered the idea for a tiny home park in a report that a citywide housing group produced in 2019 to recommend solutions to tackling housing affordability and quality. The City Council has passed a number of ordinances aimed at spurring more housing development, such as reducing minimum lot sizes for development and the number of required parking spots for multifamily homes, and allowing boarding homes to be built on major city streets.
Louie Morrison, a Bangor landlord who owns 300 rental units throughout the city, bought the Martel mobile home park on Hammond Street two months ago and has begun hauling away abandoned trailers to make room for tiny homes he and his business partner are building and plan to rent out to future tenants.
The park will house 34 one-bedroom tiny homes with fenced-in backyards, bathrooms, and living and dining rooms. A handful of existing tenants who were living in the park in trailers before he bought it can continue to live there, Morrison said.
While the numbers aren’t final, he anticipates renting out the homes for between $1,000 and $1,500 a month.
“My goal is to make it cheap,” Morrison said. “That is still relatively affordable, in my opinion.”