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Local developer wants to build “tiny apartments”

The builder of Cairo’s first “tiny house” is now seeking accommodations from the city to construct some “tiny apartments.”
Cairo businessman Jeremiah Horne shared with the mayor and council Monday night his desire to construct an eight-unit apartment complex featuring “tiny apartments,” which would have approximately 300 square feet of living area.
Horne said he wishes to build the apartments on a lot he owns on Fourth Street near Hunter’s Glenn Apartments.
Under current zoning, Horne could only build a five-unit complex on his property and he is seeking the city’s approval to move forward with the “tiny” project.
Horne pointed out that limiting his project to five-units would not be economically feasible.
“I’m trying to solve a demand I believe is out there and use as little land as possible. I’m not aware of anything like this in Cairo,” Horne said.
According to construction documents, the eight-units would be divided into four-unit sections connected by a common laundry area so it would be a single structure, according to Cairo City Manager Chris Addleton.
“Do we need an ordinance for tiny apartments like we do for tiny houses?” Councilman Jerry Cox asked.
Thomas L. Lehman, attorney for the City of Cairo, indicated an ordinance should be adopted.
“This is something that hasn’t been dealt with in the past. Generally, you see this in areas where the cost of land is extremely expensive. We don’t have that here, but we do have the demand for lower rents,” Lehman stated.
The city’s newly adopted tiny house ordinance requires 150 square feet per occupant.
Horne said he was targeting single people for his tiny apartments. The proposed units feature a living area with space for kitchen appliances, a bedroom and bath.
The developer is also looking at different rent models including one that includes utilities. According to Horne, he is proposing $600 per month rent that would include utilities, cable and Internet. “I’m experimenting to see what the market can stand and what fits,” he said.
Lehman asked Horne how his proposed apartments differed from studio apartments and the developer said his are larger than typical studios, but that he was not opposed to classifying them as studio apartments.
Councilman James H. (Jimmy) Douglas questioned Lehman how long it would take for him to bring back a proposed ordinance to the council. Due to his travel schedule, Lehman said the earliest he could have an ordinance back before the council would be May 9.
Councilman Ernest Cloud asked Horne if he was on a deadline or if he could work under the city attorney’s schedule. “No sir, rather than hurry I prefer to wait and I would very much like the city to like what I’m doing. I welcome your feedback,” Horne said.
The developer was interested in what the new law would address.
City manager Addleton asked why the current ordinance requires 3,300 square feet lot sizes for dwelling units. “Is there any rhyme or reason for the 3,300 figure?” Addleton asked.
“I don’t know why that particular figure,” Lehman said. He also pointed out that under existing code there are a significant number of substandard lots in the city and without combining lots new residential structures cannot be built on them.
Councilman Cox suggested the city manager, building official and city attorney research the matter and bring back a recommendation to the council.
“He’s not in a hurry, so let’s do it right. Maybe you should check with surrounding places to see how they have handled it,” Councilman Douglas told Lehman.
According to Lehman, based on his contacts with the Georgia Municipal Association, these are issues no one else has had to deal with. “You may have the only tiny house ordinance in the state of Georgia,” Lehman commented.
The city attorney pledged to have a proposed ordinance for the council to review at its May 9 meeting.

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