Pastor Mike Cohoon of Landmark Christian Church in Chippewa Falls stands in the front doorway of a tiny house for homeless people. All proceeds from a Christian concert at the Heyde Center for the Arts on Monday will go toward the tiny homes project.

CHIPPEWA FALLS — A Chippewa Falls committee recommended Wednesday that two tiny houses be permitted in a church parking lot downtown for use as homeless shelters.

The city’s Public Safety Committee voted 3-0 to send the special use permit to the City Council for approval. The council will hold a public hearing on the request Tuesday.

Trinity United Methodist Church, 201 W. Central St., has petitioned the city to allow two homes on its grounds. The city’s Plan Commission unanimously recommended approval of the measure in January.

A tiny home is approximately 8 feet by 12 feet in size and mobile on a trailer, featuring a chemical toilet, heater, chair, table and bed. Each house costs between $5,000 and $7,000 to complete, between construction and furnishings. So far, three houses have been completed with a fourth under construction. It has taken approximately three months to build each one.

“My biggest concern is it wasn’t built in a jurisdiction where it was inspected,” said Councilman Paul Olson, explaining he would prefer that the city’s inspector be involved in the construction process to be able to inspect it as it is built.

Olson said he thinks the city needs to develop an ordinance that regulates the size and codes of a tiny home.

City engineer Rick Rubenzer told the committee members that the church has updated its permit request to address the city’s concerns, such as wastewater removal. The permit states that the portable toilet must be emptied daily in the church’s bathroom.

“This is a very specified use permit, which will be specific to this site,” Rubenzer said.

The permit also states there is a zero-tolerance policy on illegal activities, and alcohol, illegal drugs and guns or other weapons are banned from the homes.

Other rules stated in the special use permit include that no outside guests are allowed, cars must be parked in parking lots and not on lawns, that no open flames — including candles or cigarettes — are allowed inside and the door is locked when the occupant leaves.

In November, the Lake Hallie Village Board agreed to allow Landmark Christian Church to put two tiny homes on its grounds. Mike Cohoon, Landmark Christian Church pastor, is working to get the homes allowed in Chippewa Falls as well. He had no problem with the city developing a set of building codes.

“We want to make them safe,” Cohoon told the committee.

Cohoon said technology education classes in Chippewa Falls and Bloomer are looking at building more tiny homes, and he said they also want to meet city requirements.

Chippewa Falls hasn’t had a homeless shelter since Harmony House closed in February 2014. The Chippewa Falls Mission Coalition — a group of 17 area churches including Landmark Christian and Trinity United Methodist — has been working on ways to fill the void since Harmony House closed.

Cohoon said they also have a camper to go along with three completed houses, but that can only be used nine months out of the year.

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