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Want to stay in a tiny house? Now you can in Lancaster County

Written by Maddie Crocenzi/The York Daily Record | Jan 25, 2018 6:16 PM

Cody Makarevitz's home is part of Tiny Estates, a community of tiny houses that is opening this year on the same property where Ridge Run campground used to be located. Eventually, Tiny Estates CEO Abby Hobson wants to have 100 tiny homes on the property. Zoning laws prohibit individuals from staying more than about 6 months in the homes.  (Photo: Maddie Crocenzi)

(Undated) -- Cody Makarevitz's bottom shelf is stocked with boxes of cereal and snacks. Flannel shirts hang in a makeshift closet, and two pairs of shoes sit next to the door. He even has a shop for his woodworking equipment. 

While everything seems normal, it's far from it. That's because the 6'2" Makarevitz, and his cat Bojangles, live in a tiny house. 

"It's great. I love it," he said. "I'm the only one here right now, and it's just kind of nice. It's peaceful."

A tiny resort

Makarevitz is the first resident of Tiny Estates, a tiny house resort opening in Mount Joy Township in Lancaster County. Right now, the site has two tiny houses, but CEO Abby Hobson said she hopes to have 10-15 homes available for a soft opening on April 1. 

Tiny Estates is located at the old Ridge Run campground site, but it's far from a typical camping experience. People can bring their own tiny home and stay for up to six months on one site. They can also rent out the home when they're not there for 50 percent of the profits. 

It will also function like a hotel. The homes coming to the site, six built by Liberation Tiny Homes, will function like a hotel or an Airbnb. They're currently priced at $135 a night and include hotel amenities such as turndown service and linens. Each home also has lofted bedrooms, sleeper sofas, water, sewer and electric. 

"We feel like if we're very comparable to the local hotels, this is a much more unique, fun experience," Hobson said. "You can go stay at the Marriott or at the Holiday Inn, but you could stay at that same hotel room in any city you go to and you're going to have the same standard amenities."

How are they allowed? 

Zoning is a common issue when it comes to tiny houses. In York County, the homes are prohibited for habitation. Many municipalities have a minimum habitable space requirement of 700 square feet or more, while tiny homes are typically 500 square feet or less. There's also a distinction between permanent and temporary housing. Some municipalities only allow one primary use on a property, or one permanent residence. 

So, how were they allowed in Lancaster? 

Hobson said it was because of how Ridge Run campground was operating. While it was supposed to be a campground with temporary housing, it was functioning like a mobile home park with residents staying permanently. When Hobson went to the township with her tiny house plan, they agreed to let her stay if she abided by the original campground rules. 

"In finding this campground, because it was functioning like a mobile home park and wasn't supposed to, it was a win for everyone as far as the township and as we were concerned," Hobson said. "We could sort of solve that issue, make it more transient and bring our units in, so they allow 100 percent of the sites to be tiny houses full-time."

The future

For now, Makarevitz isn't worried about the time crunch. He built his tiny house for less than $30,000, in part to try out living in different locations. Eventually, he'd like to a buy a house and turn his tiny house into a vacation home. 

He's the only one living at Tiny Estates, but that will soon change. Hobson can eventually have 100 houses on the property, per zoning laws. She said she wants to build a check-in office with a store and eventually install hot tubs, outdoor games and more. 

For his part, Makarevitz said he has everything he needs in his tiny house. He'd like to eventually expand his shop by building a deck for more equipment. But as for living small, he says he has less to worry about. 

"Sure that stuff's nice to have for maybe the one time you use it a year," he said. "But what do you really need to live?" 

If you go...

What: Tiny Estates

Where: 867 Schwanger Road Elizabethtown, Pa.

When: Booking available Feb. 1 with a soft opening on April 1

More info: https://tiny-estates.com/

This story comes to us through a partnership between WITF and The York Daily Record

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