11/18/09 — County approves mobile home ordinance

View Archive

County approves mobile home ordinance

By Steve Herring
Published in News on November 18, 2009 1:46 PM

Wayne County commissioners on Tuesday continued to chip away at the county Planning Board's authority by giving themselves the power to approve or deny mobile home park plats.

The vote was the second of two required to approve the ordinance. The first vote was taken at the board's Nov. 3 session during which Commissioner Andy Anderson was out of the country and did not attend the meeting. The second vote was required because there was not a full board for the first vote.

There were similarities between both votes.

Commissioner Jack Best made the motion to approve the ordinance as written at both meetings and Commissioner Steve Keen floated the same amendment to Best's motions. Keen's amendment failed each time.

In addition, there was little discussion about the changes at either meeting.

The mobile home park ordinance is the second of three amended planning-related ordinances being pursued by commissioners.

The first change was last month when commissioners assumed the final approval authority over subdivision plats.

Still awaiting a decision are changes to the ordinance that created the Planning Board more than 40 years ago. The major change to that ordinance would be to allow commissioners to remove Planning Board members "with or without" cause.

The ordinance approved Tuesday by a 6-1 vote applies to new mobile home parks only and not to mobile home subdivisions that are regulated by the subdivision ordinance.

Under the ordinance, the Planning Board would be responsible for reviewing plats and making recommendations to commissioners -- recommending approval, disapproval or conditional approval.

The ordinance allows developers to appeal directly to commissioners should they disagree with the Planning Board's decision.

Keen, who also is a member of the Planning Board, voted against the ordinance after his fellow board members turned down his amendment that would have required them to spell out their reasons in writing for denying a plat.

"Add that if disapproved, the reason for such disapproval shall be stated in writing specifying provisions of this ordinance of which the plat does not comply," Keen said

The motion failed 5-2, with Keen and Anderson voting for it.

The statements would let developers know what they need to do in order for the project to win approval, Keen said at the board's Nov. 3 meeting. The Planning Board currently provides such information when it denies a mobile home park plat, he said.

Keen put forth a similar argument when commissioners took control of subdivision approval but that effort failed, too.

During the first reading, commissioners talked about adding a sentence stipulating that their motions include their reasoning for rejecting a plat. However, the proposal was not included in the motion to approve the ordinance as written.

County Attorney Borden Parker has told the board that if a plat meets the rules, then it lacks the discretion to turn it down. Commissioners would have to approve the plat, he said. Then, if they have a problem with a portion of the ordinance, they could go back and address that specific area of the ordinance, Parker said.

A mobile home park consists of three or more mobile homes on rented lots, while in a subdivision the homeowner owns the lot.

The ordinance applies to new mobile home parks only, said County Planner Connie Price. Existing parks would be affected only if they are altered in some way, he said. For example, if more lots were added, then an existing park would be affected by the new law, he said.

The board did not stipulate an effective starting date and Price said he interrupted that to mean it was effective immediately.

There are no pending requests for mobile home parks, he said.

There are more than 200 mobile home parks in the county, totaling roughly 2,000 lots. That does not include mobile home parks located inside the county's municipalities.

Price attributed the slowdown in the construction of mobile home parks to their saturation in the county and to lower interest rates that have made site-built houses more affordable.

In other business Tuesday, the board agreed for the county to participate in an Administ-ration/Operations Facility Planning and Needs Assessment study for the Goldsboro-Wayne Trans-portation Authority. The study will examine the operations and administration of the GATEWAY bus system operated by the authority.

It also will look at whether it would be feasible to consolidate vehicle maintenance for the city of Goldsboro, the county and GATEWAY.