10/29/13 — County targets mobile homes

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County targets mobile homes

By Steve Herring
Published in News on October 29, 2013 1:46 PM

Wayne County officials say they don't know how many abandoned mobile homes dot the countryside.

"I can just tell you that it seems they are around every corner, and it is not always a case where we can take care of something," said Jeff Sparrow, the county's solid waste code enforcement officer.

The county does not have an ordinance allowing it to enforce demolition of such structures. However, it does offer a free voluntary program in which low-income property owners can allow the county to demolish an abandoned mobile home, with stipulations.

"It is for people who can't afford to do otherwise," Sparrow said. "It is not for mobile home park owners, or renters, or people who are making money off it. It is voluntary, so we rely on people calling us.

"We assess it on a case-by-case basis. We look at it, and if they are in a situation where it is beneficial to them, and the county, but they can't afford to dispose of one that is a nuisance, then we go from that angle."

Before demolition, the home must be inspected to ensure accessibility. If not easily accessible, the owner is responsible for clearing any objects or debris in order to make it accessible.

Applicants must provide proof of ownership and complete an abandonment and release of ownership form and a right-of-entry agreement form.

All utilities must be disconnected prior to the demolition as well.

Applicants are accepted based on funding availability.

Sparrow said that in some cases, if he notices a mobile home, he would contact the owner to see if the owner would meet the guidelines.

Sparrow said he and Solid Waste Director Tim Rogers are trying to put together a proposal to present to county commissioners to consider as a possible ordinance addressing abandoned mobile homes.

The previous board of county commissioners discussed, but never acted on, a possible ordinance that would carry financial penalties for people who have abandoned and/or dilapidated mobile homes on their property.

The county defines a mobile home as being abandoned if it has been disconnected from proper electrical, water or sewer service for at least 120 days.

A dilapidated mobile home is defined as any vacant mobile home that has any visible structural damage and/or fails to meet the county's minimum housing code and does not meet the standards for habitation.

Two mobile homes have been demolished since the start of the year, and the county is currently in the process of bidding out the next round of demolitions. The contract is not for a specific number of mobile homes, but is instead for a base price per mobile home, Sparrow said.

"That way we get locked in for that year," he said.

The bid for the past year was $2,500 per mobile home.

The mobile homes are normally demolished on site and the lot graded, he said.

"The contractor keeps any recyclable materials so they gain a little profit in that regard," he said.

Materials that cannot be recycled are sent to the landfill, and the county absorbs the cost.

The county earmarks $50,000 annually for the work, but in the recent past the county has probably only used about $20,000 to $25,000 a year, Sparrow said.

"We try to leave it on a voluntary basis and let people come to us. But we try to do a little research when we come across one," he said. "A lot of times we may run into property owners who may not want to dispose of them for whatever reason."

For more information about the program, people can call Sparrow at 919-222-7124 or 919-689-2994, ext. 310.