Warwick rejects tiny home as living space

By on May 16, 2018

It looks like a tiny house in Warwick Township will be nixed.

At the May 9 zoning hearing continuance for a tiny house on the property of Matthew and Monica Gibbel, the Warwick Township Zoning Board denied the Gibbels’ request for a special exception or variance for the mini-house.

The board will be sending the Gibbels a letter within 45 days to detail the reasons for the denial, at which time the Gibbels will have the opportunity to appeal the decision.

“I don’t have the exact reason, but it’s my understanding that it has something to do with it being considered an RV and that they don’t want to set a precedence by allowing an RV on our farm,” said Matthew Gibbel.

Zoning officer Tom Zobaugh reinforced Gibbel’s impression of the outcome, noting that, “The board determined that the use is defined in the ordinance as a RV or travel trailer, which are not permitted to be used as living space except for RV parks.” Gibbel reported that once he has the written decision, he is considering an appeal. If all else fails, he might be looking toward selling the tiny house or relocating it to the tiny house park in Mount Joy.

The Gibbels built the little house two years ago on their farm, just off Church Road. The house is just 24 feet long and 8 feet wide. Not realizing that they needed a permit to build the house, they assumed that it would just be another out building on their 100-year-plus farm.

He admitted that he was disappointed.

The Gibbels built the little house two years ago on their farm, just off Church Road. The house is just 24 feet long and 8 feet wide. Not realizing that they needed a permit to build the house, they assumed that it would just be another out building on their 100-year-plus farm.

Although the house was built on wheels, the Gibbels never intended to take it on the road. It’s also not considered a dwelling, since the family does not reside there. The tiny house cannot be seen from the road, nestled in a valley far from view.

The Gibbels do rent the tiny house out to guests, using websites like Airbnb to promote the tiny house as a quiet getaway and opportunity to check out life in a tiny house. That was never their intention. They originally built the tiny house as a place for their own houseguests to stay when they were visiting. As word spread that the Gibbels had a tiny house, they decided to rent it out as a short-term rental.

At last month’s zoning hearing, chairman Gary Lefever reported the tiny house creates a big dilemma for a variety of reasons. It has already been built, without obtaining a permit. It’s not exactly a trailer or mobile home, or transient lodging, or a motel or hotel. To make it more complex, it is being used for business purposes as a commercial activity.

Laura Knowles is a freelance feature writer and regular contributor to the Record Express. She can be reached at lknowles21@gmail.com. 

2 Comments

  1. KLS

    May 17, 2018 at 2:50 pm

    It’s a cute little house on private property. I don’t think Warwick Township should have the right to tell them it can’t be there.

  2. Tiffany

    August 19, 2019 at 10:25 am

    Make property owners pay property taxes, but deny them of what they can place on their property. It boils down to this: How can the local government tax this dwelling. It’s not a house, so they can’t tax it.

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