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NIMBY in Action – Commission Delays Zoning Ordinance

April 12th, 2017 Comments off
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Nimby comic credit as shown, used here under fair use guidelines.

The Mt. Vernon, Illinois Zoning and Planning Commission has once again tabled conversation on a proposed zoning change that would clear the way for a manufactured home community.

According to the Register News, the decision came after a two-and-a-half hour hearing, which featured a number of residents speaking out against the proposed location.

I’m talking about green-space, people,” said Dianne Klein.

You guys are the zoning board. We are not going to get any more green-space back if you let this development go through. … We don’t want residential. We don’t care if they’re million dollar houses. We want green-space out there.”

The City Council also recently tabled discussions on the proposed community, to work on further establishing guidelines around what would happen to an adjacent park.

Developers Rob Berneking and Andrew Edwards are currently in discussions to purchase the property for the community, and they provided a detailed presentation on the project during the commission meeting.

We are ready, willing and able to develop this project. … The extensive history of managing manufactured home communities gives our group unrivaled experience in quality control, HUD installation, property maintenance, and customer satisfaction.”

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Credit: Google.

At least one member of the audience disagreed.

I object to the stats that have been cited here that indicate manufactured homes perform as well as regular homes during storms,” said audience member Mindy Goss.

As Daily Business News readers are already aware, officials, news agencies and the general public continue to specifically point out manufactured homes and communities – often identified incorrectly as “mobile homes” and “mobile home parks” – vs. site-built homes in damage reports.

On average, about 1 in 5 structures identified as “mobile homes” by the media are in fact pre-HUD code mobile homes.  They are routinely the ones that suffer the most damage, because HUD Code manufactured homes are more durable by design.

Zoning board members referenced a petition signed by 438 people objecting to the proposed location of the manufactured home community during the meeting, and the zoning board approved a motion to table the matter until the revised city ordinance regulating manufactured home communities is adopted.

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Danny Feagin. Credit: Aiken Standard.

The Daily Business News has covered a number of potential NIMBY (Not-In-My-Back-Yard) stories recently, where current residents appear to be working to keep manufactured homes or communities out. Most notable is the case in Aiken, South Carolinawhere Councilman Danny Feagin was quoted as saying “As long as it keeps the mobile home parks [sic] out, I think the folks would be satisfied,” in relation to a proposed rezoning ordinance.

Considering everything presented, we feel that our project is clearly the highest and best use for the subject property,” said Berneking.##

 

(Image credits are as shown above.)

 

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RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.

UPDATE: OMHA Fires Back in Manufactured Housing Commission Battle

April 4th, 2017 Comments off
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Credits: Official Photos, OMHA, OMHC, Digital Imaging Reports, Ohio EPA.

In a story that the Daily Business News originally covered here, the battle between the office of Ohio Governor John Kasich and the Ohio Manufactured Housing Commission (OMHC) has heated up yet again.

And, the Ohio Manufactured Homes Association (OMHA) is firing back.

According to the Dayton Daily News, Governor Kasich is calling for the OMHC to be disbanded, and its responsibilities delegated to the Ohio Department of Commerce. The call is part of the governor’s budget proposal pending before the Ohio General Assembly.

At the core of the campaign against the Commission are the claims from Ohio fire and environmental officials who say the board doesn’t do enough to prevent manufactured home fires and ensure clean drinking water in the MH communities.

But industry professionals, including OMHA Executive Director Tim Williams, are backed with facts, and say that there’s more to the story.

The administration is spreading false information and misleading information because the commission is pushing back against Kasich’s proposal,” said Williams.

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Tim Williams, OMHA Executive Director.

As Daily Business News readers are already aware, we have pointed out the facts versus myths surrounding manufactured homes and fires, noting that homes built under post-1976 federal regulations have the same rates in this area as traditional homes, and Williams pointed to similar data.

Local or state fire officials have no authority to inspect or educate or require different fire codes for manufactured homes,” said Williams.

Association of Manufactured Home Residents in Ohio President Frank Pojman says that in many cases, manufactured homes are actually safer.

When these houses are built, they are inspected at the factory,” said Pojman.

When they leave the factory, it has a tag that says it meets federal safety standards. You don’t get that in a stick built home.”

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Credit: Stoveguard, MHLivingNews.

For one industry professional, who is also involved with the commission, the need for it is obvious.

I believe wholeheartedly, whether I sit on the commission or not, it’s one of the best things that’s happened to the manufactured home community in Ohio,” said Evan Atkinson, general manager of Clayton Homes in Frazeyburg and a commissioner on the board.

Since the commission was created, the number of complaints about mobile home installation has plummeted from hundreds to a number you can count on one hand. What’s proposed now is to fragment it and stick it back out into deep bureaucracy.”

Atkinson says that the commission currently requires inspection of every single home installed in Ohio, and points out that it’s a commitment the Department of Commerce has not made.

I believe there’s a probably a good likeliness that homes may not be installed as well as they are currently being installed,” said Atkinson. He also noted that after establishing new rules for licensing and inspections, the commission has heard one complaint in the last three years, as opposed to the more than 500 complaints every year from consumers about mobile home installation before the commission was created in response to federal rules in 2003.

I think the Manufactured Homes Commission has proven they do the right thing by consumers in Ohio, and that’s very much proven by the number of dispute resolution cases there used to be and the number of dispute resolution cases today,” said Atkinson.

 

From Fire to Water

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Credit: OMHA.

In addition to the onslaught from Ohio fire officials, the Ohio EPA told the Dayton Daily News that its efforts to “force Ohio mobile home parks [sic] to provide their residents safe drinking water have been slowed by inaction on the part of the commission.”

In a statement, the Ohio EPA says that it shares oversight with OMHC over the state’s 250 manufactured home communities that operate their own water systems.

This includes Pineview Estates in Miamisburg, where about 400 residents routinely lost running water; and Catalpa Grove Mobile Home Park in Dayton, where the owner failed to test the system for contaminants such as lead, copper and bacteria,” the EPA said in the statement.

In both cases, the Manufactured Homes Commission denied any appreciable assistance to the Ohio EPA in taking action on the park’s [sic] license, instead forcing the EPA to pursue the issue through lengthy court battles. The manufactured homes commission rarely – if ever – bothers to use its full regulatory authority to enforce safe water rules.”

According to OMHC director Janet Williams dealing with the EPA caused more confusion than progress.

We have never had clear authority to take action against a mobile home park [sic] owner’s license for water quality issues since we began licensing mobile home parks [sic] in December 2012,” said Williams.

We want to work with them in the process of whatever legal avenue we have to help them enforce the water rules they have in manufactured home parks [sic].”

Strong words from the Ohio EPA came as a surprise to Tim Williams.

The EPA showed little interest in increasing oversight of manufactured home communities in the past.”

Jim Demitrus, who was on the commission board from 2006 through 2015, pointed out that pulling a manufactured home community’s license over water issues would lead to serious and potentially severe consequences for residents.

If they pull the license, everybody in that community has to move out,” said Demitrus.

I would like to see somebody in state government do that. Pull the license, and you have to move 100 families.”

The Daily Business News will continue to follow this story closely and provide updates. ##

 

(Image credits are as shown above.)

 

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RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.

Manufactured Home Commission Under Fire, After Fire

March 30th, 2017 Comments off
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Credit: OMHA.

A recent manufactured home fire in Urbana, Ohio, has officials across the state calling for bold action.

Their target is the Ohio Manufactured Homes Commission.

According to the Dayton Daily News, fire officials across Ohio are backing a proposal by Governor John Kasich to abolish what they call an “industry-controlled agency that regulates manufactured homes,” saying the commission does too little to protect manufactured home residents from deadly fires.

The Ohio Fire Chief’s Association sent a letter to lawmakers last week supporting a provision in the state budget to kill the commission and roll its functions into the Ohio Department of Commerce. The Daily Business News covered the response from the commission in a story linked here.

30 people died in 1,208 manufactured home fires between 2012 and 2016,” said the letter from the Association.

Ohioans are 4.2 times more likely to die in a manufactured home that caught fire than one- or two-family home.”

The Ohio Manufactured Homes Commission is responsible for licensing inspectors across the state, who oversee the installation of about 3,000 homes a year. It also regulates the state’s 1,600 manufactured home communities. The commission has oversight from a nine-member board, which is appointed by the Governor and the Ohio General Assembly.

For its detractors in the state, the Commission also has its supporters.

I believe wholeheartedly, whether I sit on the commission or not, it’s one of the best things that’s happened to the manufactured home community in Ohio,” said Evan Atkinson, general manager of Clayton Homes in Frazeyburg and a commissioner on the board.

Since the commission was created, the number of complaints about mobile home installation has plummeted from hundreds to a number you can count on one hand. What’s proposed now is to fragment it and stick it back out into deep bureaucracy.”

Atkinson says that the commission currently requires inspection of every single home installed in Ohio, and points out that it’s a commitment the Department of Commerce has not made.

I believe there’s a probably a good likeliness that homes may not be installed as well as they are currently being installed,” said Atkinson.

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Credit: Stoveguard, MHLivingNews.

As Daily Business News readers are already aware, we have pointed out the facts versus myths surrounding manufactured homes and fires, pointing out that homes built under post-1976 federal regulations have the same rates in this area as traditional homes.

Ohio Fire Marshal Larry Flowers insists that moving the inspection and licensing of manufactured homes into the Department of Commerce, where his agency is, will allow them to coordinate better on fire prevention.

What we believe is that there just needs to be more oversight and transparency in the process when these things are inspected initially,” said Flowers.

This will allow us to work more closely together with our partners in the department of commerce.

But Atkinson says that working more closely together isn’t an issue.

If that is a major concern, the folks within the commission would be more than willing to work with the state fire marshal as well,” said Atkinson.

The commission would welcome the opportunity to work with the state fire marshal and be able to get 100 percent of manufactured homes inspected and installed properly.” ##

 

(Image credits are as shown above.)

 

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RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.

County Commission Tackles Tiny Homes

March 23rd, 2017 Comments off
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A tiny home in Walker County, Georgia. Credit: Times Free Press.

In Walker County, Georgia last week, the County Planning Commission took on a big task… how to regulate “tiny homes.

According to the Times Free Press, during a work session, the commission settled on some rules – a tiny home in Walker County should be no bigger than 500 square feet, it should sit on a permanent foundation, which includes an electric meter and a sewer line or septic tank.

The commission also decided that the homes should be restricted to specific zones in the county, with all of them being clustered together.

I’d hate for someone to put one of these things next to my home,” said board member Jack Michaels.

The decisions by the commission were just the first step in what looks to be a much longer process. They will need to put their ideas into an official ordinance, and then hold at least two pubic meetings to review it before they can actually vote on it. This process could delay the path from concept to law until the middle of the year.

While tiny homes may be all the rage in the mainstream, for planning and zoning offices they can present potentially big issues.

Some board members are concerned that a collection of “shanties” could pop up in backyards, or the homes could be abandoned, leaving the county on the hook, or be used by residents to avoid paying taxes. One board member sees the popularity of shows like “Tiny House, Big Living” and “Tiny House Hunters” as the culprit.

That drives some of this,” said board member Phillip Cantrell.

But I think all of us are smart enough to know, living in that, I’m not sure my wife can get her shoes in there.

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Walker County, Georgia, shaded in red. Credit: Google.

With confusion around state and local ordinances, local governments across the country have resorted to creating a patchwork of tiny home regulations.

Nearby Catoosa County says the homes must be at least 700 square feet, while Murray County requires at least 864 square feet in rural areas and 1,200 square feet in suburban areas. Gordon County restricts them to RV and campground sites.

Most of them don’t have a stove,” said David Brown, Walker County’s director of codes, inspection and planning.

They don’t have a washer and a dryer. They’ve got a microwave. They may or may not have a toilet.

There’s also the issue of taxes.

How will the tax man go about handling these things?” asked Cantrell. “Is it just a free ride? You move into these things, you get to live free?

As of right now it is,” said Brown. “As of right now.

And the “Wild West” feel around tiny homes concerns Brown.

There are no rules, some of these have no serial numbers. They have no identification. The only way we can do it legally, when we do find them, is to give them a serial number and put them in the system, like a mobile home,” said Brown.

 

(Image credits are as shown above.)

 

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RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.