01/09/13 — Change to mobile home ordinance gets first OK

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Change to mobile home ordinance gets first OK

By Steve Herring
Published in News on January 9, 2013 1:46 PM

Mobile home owners in Wayne County are one vote closer to being able to set up them up even if they are more than 15 years old following a unanimous decision by Wayne County commissioners to eliminate the county's ban on older mobile homes.

However, a vacancy on the board left by the recent death of Commissioner J.D. Evans means that a second vote will be required since the full board did not vote on the change to the county mobile home park ordinance.

That second vote is expected at commissioners' Jan. 22 meeting. A full board is not required for that vote.

The change had been sought by the Wayne County Mobile Home Park Developers Association. The association asked that the restrictions be removed and replaced with current federal Housing and Urban Development standards.

The reworded ordinance will now read that all manufactured or mobile homes being set up in the county "must bear a HUD data plate stating the home was constructed under regulations of HUD as of July 1, 1976."

That, County Planner Connie Price said, still means that no mobile homes manufactured prior to that date will be permitted.

Also, a mobile home must have all of the parts it had when it was first built and inspected, he said. For example, if a certain year required that the mobile home have smoke alarms, it must still have them in order to be approved, he said.

State set-up standards adopted in 2004 regulate the tie down and foundation of the homes throughout the state. HUD adopted standards in 1976 that controlled the construction of mobile homes.

Several speakers argued during a Tuesday morning public hearing that the county rule not only infringed on their constitutional rights, but hurt them and the county financially.

However, former commissioner Andy Anderson, who was part of the board that implemented the ordinance, urged caution before acting.

As an agricultural county, Wayne County experiences a lot of transient people who stay a while and then move on, he said. As such, the county has a number of mobile homes that cater to that segment of the population, Anderson said.

"There is going to come a day when you are going to have to dispose of those homes, and in most case it is going to fall back onto the taxpayers to do that," he said. "That is very expensive. If we have more and more of them, we are going to have a tremendous tax bill."

There also is the added expense of disposing of those materials in the county landfill, he said.

"I would not like to see you throw the plan out completely because it was well-discussed and looked at," Anderson said. "What I would like for you to do is look at it and not throw out the baby with the bath water. If it is necessary to make changes, look at tweaking it."

For example, mobile homes in the county that are more than 15 years old cannot be moved if they have had not had electricity in the 90 days prior to the move. Anderson suggested the time could be extended to 120 days.

Steve L. Herring of the Grantham community countered Anderson's comments about dilapidated mobile homes by pointing to a display of photographs he taken around the county.

The photographs show more than 50 houses and buildings that are dilapidated, he said.

"There are more dilapidated buildings in Wayne County than there are dilapidated mobile homes," he said. "I would appreciate it if this board would not discriminate between mobile homes and dilapidated buildings.

"Junk is junk. If you are going to penalize one, penalize all of them. Age has nothing to do with the quality of a mobile home."

Attorney Billy Strickland, who is representing the mobile home park owners, said he would not waste time repeating the legalities.

"We have been working on this for six months or better here," he said. "We have been in front of this board multiple times."

Strickland reiterated his contention that the HUD standards pre-empt the 15-year cap thereby making it invalid. The Court of Appeals also has said that it is unconstitutional, he said.

"We know the legal side of it," he said. "The group that I represent, which is the majority of people here, are willing to do what has to be done to get this squared away. We have multiple people here who have mobile homes that are old. They are better living conditions than some houses we have around here.

"We don't think it is too much to ask this board to vote on it and vote on it today."

Strickland said he would like others to speak. He said that in the past he had "suspended" everybody speaking.

"It seems like that diminished the value of what is going on here," he said. "We are talking about economics here. We are talking about people wanting to move here, live here, work here, and have their families here and are being blocked by an arbitrary rule discriminatory toward them based on just a year and nothing else.

"Quite frankly none of my clients like it and none of them appreciate it. We always talk about economics. This is economics. It has taken six months to get here. That is economics. Multiple people are sitting here with trailers waiting for the power to be hooked up, but they can't. They can't derive rent and income of this rule because it has taken us so long to get here."

New commissioner Joe Daughtery, who sells mobile homes, did not recuse himself from the vote.