- Associated Press - Sunday, September 20, 2015

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) - 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 (https://on.sctimes.com/1KWqOeJ ) 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,” coalition president Tina Lamberts said.

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 out of Willmar.

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 in much the same fashion as 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 existing city zoning laws.

“We certainly aren’t opposed to finding houses for the homeless,” St. Cloud Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Drew Hultgren said. “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 board’s 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.”

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Information from: St. Cloud Times, https://www.sctimes.com

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