10/15/09 — Planning board eyes changes to county's rules for mobile homes

View Archive

Planning board eyes changes to county's rules for mobile homes

By Steve Herring
Published in News on October 15, 2009 1:46 PM

The Wayne County Planning Board Tuesday night recommended only one change to proposed alterations of the county's mobile home park ordinance that will be discussed by commissioners when they meet next week.

The board wants commissioners to state, in writing, their reasons for denying a mobile home park plat so the developer will know what is needed to receive approval.

That same recommendation was made by the board on proposed changes to the county's subdivision ordinance. However, when commissioners voted Oct. 6, they did so without any discussion of the changes recommended by the Planning Board.

"Did we not have a similar request in the subdivision ordinance and how did that go as far as the vote?" chairman Chris Cox said.

The vote by commissioners was on what was presented at a public hearing and not the amendments recommended by the Planning Board, county planner Connie Price said.

Cox asked if the recommendations had been discussed during a work session.

"No, sir," said Steve Keen, board member and commissioner.

Commissioner Sandra McCullen was unable to attend last week's meeting, which will mean that a second vote will be required before the subdivision ordinance approval is final, Price said. That means changes could still be made, he added.

Commissioners are expected to take that second vote when they meet on Tuesday. A public hearing will held that morning at 9:15 a.m. on the proposed changes to the mobile home park ordinance. The Health Board must review the proposal as well.

Price told Planning Board members that the Health Board wanted to add wording regarding septic tanks. Price said his understanding was that the Health Board did not want the plats approved if any of the septic tanks in the park were defective.

If both ordinances are approved, commissioners would assume authority to approve all subdivision and mobile home park plats. That power currently rests with the Planning Board.

Along with those ordinances, commissioners are reviewing the ordinance that created the Planning Board.

Price explained that a mobile home park is not the same as a mobile home subdivision. A mobile home park consists of three or more mobile homes on rented lots.

In a mobile home subdivision, houses are located on tracts of land in which the lots are owned by the homeowners.

The ordinance spells out the approval process -- what has to be on the plan and what has to be in the park as it develops, Price said.

"What the ordinance would do is that the plan would be submitted to our (planning) office," Price said. "We would make sure everything is on there that should be on the plan. We would bring it to the Planning Board. After you review it, you would make a recommendation to the board of commissioners for them to approve the plan."

The ordinance would allow commissioners to grant variances, too. The Planning Board would make the recommendations for any variances.

Keen noted that one section of the ordinance says that the Panning Board would approve the plans.

"The Planning Board approves the plat with final approval going to the board of commissioners, so if you didn't approve it for some reason, it would stay here," Price said. "The developer would have to satisfy the Planning Board before it went to commissioners."

Keen wanted to know if recommend and approval meant the same.

"I think that in this case 'approved' means approved by the Planning Board, but it would still have to go to the board of commissioners," Price said.

Keen asked county attorney Borden Parker for his opinion.

"The Planning Board would have to approve it to send it to county commissioners," Parker said.

"If you were to issue a provisional approval, the developer may appeal the Planning Board's decision to commissioners," Price said. "Otherwise, if you conditionally approve something, all of the conditions would have to be met before it was approved.

"Or the developer, if they did not want to meet those conditions, could appeal to the board of commissioners."

Keen asked if there was an appeal process past the commissioners.

The decision by the board of commissioners would be final, Price said.

Keen asked again about an appeal process and whether such a provision should be added. Also, he asked if the ordinance included a clause that would require commissioners explain their reasons for denial. That way a developer would know what is needed to correct any problems, he said.

"I hate to leave these developers out there in limbo," he said.

"I think that would be fair," Price said. "The current process is that if the Planning Board gives conditional approval or disapproves you have to, in your motion, state here is what you have got to do to make it compliant. It would still be there for the Planning Board, but you want to add it for the board of commissioners when they turn something down."

That is not in here, Keen said.

That's correct, Price said.

Keen then made a motion to add such a stipulation, based on wording provided by Parker. The motion was unanimously approved.

The ordinance gives the developer 12 months to start. If they can't meet the deadline, a developer could ask for an extension, Price said.

Failing to do so would mean they would have to restart the process.

In other business, Joanne Summerlin was elected as the new board chairman and Mike Aycock as vice chairman. Cox and board member Brad Wells, without additional comment, recused themselves from the nomination process.