08/04/05 — New rules for mobile homes spark Faison meeting debate

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New rules for mobile homes spark Faison meeting debate

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on August 4, 2005 1:49 PM

FAISON -- A room full of angry mobile home owners prompted the town board to postpone amending Faison's zoning ordinance.

Faison town commissioners agreed to meet with the planning board at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 15 to "fine-tune" the proposed changes.

About 20 people crowded into the meeting room at Faison Town Hall Wednesday night to ask town commissioners to not penalize them because of the way other owners neglect their mobile homes. A few of the people stayed after the public hearing to see how town commissioners would vote. Several left angry, saying town officials were discriminating against their tenants for not being able to afford site-built houses.

The discussion during regular session was similar to the public hearing. Town Commissioner J.E. Andrews said he would not vote for the amendment as presented.

Town Commissioner Pat Rouse, who is the town's liaison on the planning board, agreed with Andrews. The planning board put a lot of work into the amendment, and there was much discussion, she said, but "I just don't think it's fair."

Town Commissioner Jane Hollingsworth, who manages her mother's rental mobile home, said she has a problem with a couple parts of the amendment, too.

None of the town commissioners raised their hands when Mayor Bill Igoe called for a vote for the amendment, which prohibits a mobile home in the town's historic district to be replaced with another mobile home. No mobile home could be placed where one doesn't already exist. A provision also gives owners only 180 days to find a replacement, obtain a zoning permit, have the new mobile home inspected and receive approval.

Planning Board Chairman Bill Fesperman told the crowd it has taken the planning board four years to come up with the wording of the amendment. He showed the board members pictures of some unsightly mobile homes in town. Several have not been underpinned.

"All we're trying to do is get the trailers presentable," Fesperman said. "We just want them to look decent."

Marilyn Heckman told the board during the public hearing it can take more than six months to find a good tenant to replace one who has moved a mobile home off one of her lots. She said she bought her mobile homes last year for her children in case they needed them, and she feels she is being penalized.

Ms. Heckman and Melinda Malpass told the board they felt the public hearing was a waste of time.

"You have already decided you're going to do this," Ms. Malpass said. "It appears to me the town is trying to get a certain income type here."

Sheila Brock, who also has some rental mobile homes in town, asked the board to clean up the town's rundown houses and abandoned stores first.

"I feel you're discriminating against lower class people," she said. "It's not fair."

Town Attorney Garrett Ludlum asked the people in the crowd to devote time to work on committees and help find a solution to the problems they were pointing out to the board. He said the town board meetings are attended by more members of the media than townspeople.

Ms. Malpass said the town board discriminates against church people by holding its meetings on Wednesday nights, which is traditionally prayer meeting night.