10/10/12 — Mobile homes may get reprieve

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Mobile homes may get reprieve

By Steve Herring
Published in News on October 10, 2012 1:46 PM

The Wayne County Planning Board is recommending the county lift its ban prohibiting 15-year-old and older mobile homes in the county.

However, a public hearing must be held first, and the final decision rests with county commissioners who asked the board to review the current rules.

The revision in the county's mobile home park ordinance had been sought by the Wayne County Mobile Home Park Owners and Developers Association. A dozen park owners, and association attorney Billy Strickland, attended the Planning Board's Tuesday night session.

The item was not on the agenda, but was added at the start of the meeting.

County commissioners, not the Planning Board, were responsible for the original decision on the 15-year rule to avoid an influx of older mobile homes into the county.

In 2006, commissioners adopted minimum setup standards for mobile homes. The ordinance regulates the appearance of the exterior, skirting, repairs, windows, doors and steps. It also limits the age of homes that are moved into the county.

It also prevents the movement of mobile homes already in the county that are more than 15 years old if they have not had electricity in 90 days prior to the move.

The state adopted minimum setup standards in 2004 that regulate the tie down and foundations. The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development adopted standards in 1976 that control construction of mobile homes -- the rules that the association wants the county to use instead of the county rules.

"What (the county ordinance) does, it keeps the quality of the homes moving forward," County Planner Connie Price said. "The 15 years change every year. The HUD standards the (association) letter refers to are the HUD standards that were adopted by Congress in 1974 and by HUD in 1976. They have been modified over time."

Price said the planning staff recommended the ordinance be changed to read, "All mobile homes being setup in Wayne County must meet current HUD standards. Each mobile home that is not new must be inspected by a certified HUD inspector, a professional engineer or an architect prior to obtaining a setup permit. The inspector must provide the Wayne County inspections office a signed statement that the mobile home meets the current HUD standards.

"If the inspector is an engineer or architect, the statement must be accompanied by the inspector's professional seal. If the statement is by a certified HUD inspector the statement must be notarized. All individuals conducting such inspections must be then currently licenses in North Carolina by the appropriate authorities."

The change would allow moving a mobile home whether it was a year old or 75 years old, but would require that it be inspected and meet HUD standards, Price said.

Vice Chairman David Quick said he wondered if anyone had been adversely affected by the current 15-year limit.

Board member Zeke Jackson said that he had.

"I would not be living in Wayne County, nor teaching in Wayne County Public Schools," he said. "I would not be here because my mobile home would have aged out one year between when I bought it and I moved here. A lot of good can come from this. People want to live here. People want to work here. People want to be property owners. Why are we restricting them because of a flood that happened in distant memory?"

It is not distant memory, Quick said. Flooding from Hurricane Floyd in 1999 cost the county thousands of homes, he said.

Only one other county in the state limits mobile homes, Jackson said.

Jackson asked Price when the last time the HUD standards were updated.

"They are regularly updated," Price said. "The same basic standards have been in place since '76 that deal with minimum size of homes and square footage of homes, having to have bathrooms and so forth. Certain things have been added over time dealing with smoke detectors, types of outlets, amount of insulation. My guess would be last year."

Jackson made the motion to recommend the change, but asked that the word "current" be removed.

"If we lock ourselves in with the word current it means that every time HUD updates we are going to be forced to adopt the current model year a mobile home is manufactured," he said. "If we adopt it this way, instead of having a 15-year limit, we are going to have a one-year limit on bringing these things in."

Quick said that did not mean that the county would do anything. The inspectors would get a new checklist every year to follow and would have to inspect and certify on the current standards.

County Attorney Borden Parker said he thought the board's recommended change met what the association was asking for.

Board member Ed Cromartie said he supported ending the 15-year limit, but wanted to ensure that the wording did not open the county up to an influx of substandard mobile homes.

That is why the association is asking for the original 1974 standards and the current 2001 standards that will do everything the board is talking about, Strickland said.

"You don't have to keep updating it with HUD, but go with the now current which is the 2001 standard," he said. "That would be sufficient to take away any of the trailers pre-74 and give at least a floor as to what the newer trailers should be."

Board members agreed and left the word current in the proposal.