Officials like the idea of people living within their means, but add that minimum dwelling size in current code is already pretty small

    As the conversation gets underway about City of Crookston housing codes and how they mesh or don’t mesh with an apparent interest among some in the community, specifically, the Woods Addition, in building houses that don’t meet the minimize size standards currently on the books, local officials are first hoping to clarify just what the people are hoping to build.

    The talk stems from a couple city council meetings ago, when Mayor Wayne Melbye said he’d been approached by some people in the Woods Addition who were interested in building small houses on available lots in the neighborhood. They wouldn’t be “tiny houses” that are mobile/portable in nature and have been popularized on various TV shows, the mayor said. They’d be on permanent foundations, Melbye said, but they wouldn’t meet the City’s current requirement that a dwelling be at least 800 square feet in size and 24 feet wide. The driving force behind the interest that was expressed to him, the mayor noted, was a desire for people to live within their means and build what they can afford, instead of going deep into debt due to building a larger house.

    Building Official Matt Johnson told the City Planning Commission this week that he’s going to reach out to Melbye to get more details and, hopefully, be put in touch with the people who are potentially interested in constructing small houses in the Woods Addition.

    As of now, commission members are hesitant to open the door to allowing anyone to roll a mobile home onto an available lot in the Woods Addition or any other neighborhood. “The concern about going below (the 24-foot width requirement) is that you could get into a trailer home situation,” City Administrator Shannon Stassen added.

    The thinking among most commission members who spoke on the matter this week that an 800 square foot house is already plenty small. “If they can do a small home that meets our ordinance, it would be great for in-fill lots,” Stassen said.

    Ward 5 City Council Member Dale Stainbrook, mentioning the former Franklin School property in the Woods Addition as an example, said that if someone wanted to build some small houses there, “There would be negative feedback from the neighbors there.”

    “The point is to protect neighborhoods as a whole,” Johnson explained. “You don’t want a 3,000 square foot house and a 200 square foot house next to it.”

    Still, council member and commission member Jake Fee said people should be commended for not wanting to build more than they can afford. “There’s a lot of merit to that, living within your means,” he said.