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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.

The End of MHC’s in Palm Beach County?

January 31st, 2017 Comments off
TheEndofMHCsinPalmBeachCountycreditMHProNews-SuniSands-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

Suni Sands Mobile Home Park. Credit: MHProNews.

What a difference a storm can make.

According to the Palm Beach Post, a tornado that ripped through the Juno Beach Condo Mobile Home Park last week put the issues surrounding manufactured home communities in Palm Beach county front and center again, as a combination of developers buying up communities and high housing prices threaten access to affordable housing in the area.

 

Many manufactured home communities in the county sit on large lots of land, usually with access to main roads, boat docks, and, most important to developers, commercial or multi-family zoning.

When other housing or commercial buildings replace a manufactured home community, urban planners often refer to it as “infill development,” which according to the Municipal Research and Services Center (MRSC) is defined as “the process of developing vacant or under-used parcels within existing urban areas that are already largely developed.

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A crew cleans up at Juno after last week’s tornado. Credit: Palm Beach Post.

And, although residents of manufactured home communities see things differently, what may be more troubling in Palm Beach county is what appears to be a “backdoor” version of NIMBY (Not-In-My-Back-Yard.)

Per the Palm Beach Post, politicians, and the residents who reelect them, seem to know that developments bring more tax revenue than manufactured home communities.

Infill development in the county has already taken place in Jupiter at the site of the former Whitehaven Senior Mobile Home Park, which is now home to Culver’s Custard and the Barcelona apartments.

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A map of the area, with Juno highlighted. Credit: Google.

Residents at Bell’s Mobile Home Park and Suni Sands Mobile Home Park met a similar fate when developers acquired the properties and announced new development plans. The last of the residents at Suni Sands left the community in mid December.

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A view of Bell’s Mobile Home Park. Credit: Palm Beach Post.

I grew up here. My kids worked here. This place is a part of me. The residents aren’t the only ones feeling the loss. I’m glad it’s over. It’s time to move on,” said community manager Steve Burns.

I never imagined I would live in such a magical place like Suni Sands. My husband and I are going to get a pizza tonight and sit on the deck with another couple. One last night in paradise,” said Joyce Miller, a 15-year resident.

Even moving assistance from the government usually isn’t enough to help residents.

While offering up to $6,000 in moving expenses for manufactured homeowners who are displaced, that amount doesn’t go very far in a county where everything tends to be expensive.

Many simply walk away from their homes all together, with it being too expensive to move them.

Views from the MH Industry

jimayottecreditmhpronewsusersrcdesktoppaulbradleycredtimhpronewsstanthonycasehighlightsbattleovercommunityownersrightsvsresidentsrights-dailybusinessnewsAs similar instances continue to take place around the U.S., MH industry professionals have provided their take.

Jim Ayotte, executive director of the Florida Manufactured Housing Association (FMHA), told MHProNews – “A community owner shouldn’t be compelled to close a community without regard for homeowners.

Ayotte explained some of the various stress points that are often at play, including local governments that have limited ability in their budgets to provide affordable housing. Yet, local governments often try to impose measures that force property owners to act contrary to their property rights.

This is unfair to the private sector and quite frankly, should be unconstitutional,” said Ayotte.

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Jay Hamilton, Executive Director, Georgia Manufactured Housing Association (GMHA).

Property owners have the right to develop their land. And the government has the responsibility to make affordable housing available to citizens, especially for the elderly and low-income. There has to be some type of balance.

As MH association directors, we support a property owner’s rights to buy, sell and make a profit at any time, Jay Hamilton, of the George Manufactured Housing Association told MHProNews.

What we do hope for is that the MH Community owner does it ethically, which is usually the case.

The community owner should help minimize the impact by working with local government and social service agencies to identify alternative housing options,” said Ayotte, adding that he has seen a number of examples of community closures where owners, residents and local officials worked successfully together.

Ayotte’s full comments about the matter are linked here. ##

 

(Image credits are as shown.)

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RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

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

County Levies Stiff Fine in Dakota, as Trump Primes XL Pipeline

January 25th, 2017 Comments off
CountyAnnounces12MillionDollarFineforZoningViolationscreditWillinstoWire-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingsnews

Williston, North Dakota. Credit: Williston Wire.

In a case that dates back to 2014, Williams County, North Dakota officials have re-instituted a $1.2 million fine against Western Petroleum LLC and its parent company, Pilot Thomas Logistics.

According to the Williston Herald, the fine is a result of failing to pay fees and comply with zoning regulations while it was operating company housing several years ago, including modular homes and RV’s.

County commissioners voted unanimously to levy the fine on January 16th, and the amount levies a $1,000 fine per day for each day that the company has failed to pay fees for non-renewal of a conditional use permit, being out of compliance with zoning regulations and operating temporary housing.

Back in 2014, the county commission imposed a $29.6 million fine against Western Petroleum after officials discovered the lapses. That fine was calculated by determining how many days each unit had been out of compliance, at a rate of $1,000 per day.

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Credit: Western Petroleum, Pilot Logistics.

In response, the company filed suit in district court, where a judge upheld the fine. Attorneys then appealed the decision to the state supreme court, which ruled that the amount was calculated improperly.

In the appeals court opinion, the fine can be assessed daily against a site, and cannot be based on the number of residential units present.

An attorney for Pilot Thomas Logistics pointed out that the company has also filed a suit in federal court, and a judge has issued an injunction as the case progresses through the court system.

It’s our contention that any action by this board would be in violation of a federal court order,” said Andrew Shedlock after recommending that the commission wait to decide on fines.

Commission chairman David Montgomery disagrees, and says the fines are unrelated to the case, as they were levied before the company took the issue to court.

These fees were imposed and were not paid,” said Montgomery.

Daily Business News writer Matthew J. Silver has covered manufactured and modular housing activity in North Dakota extensively, including temporary modular housing being restricted in the Bakken oilfield. That story is linked here.

 

Trump Makes Moves on Keystone XL, Dakota Access Pipelines

 

CountyAnnounces12MillionDollarFineforZoningViolationscreditFoxNews-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingsnews

President Donald Trump signs the Executive Order for the Keystone XL pipeline. Credit: Fox News.

President Donald Trump took executive action yesterday, signing orders to advance both the Keystone XL and Dakota access pipelines, reversing Obama Administration actions to stop them.

According to CNBC, the orders will make it easier for TransCanada to construct the Keystone XL pipeline and for Energy Transfer Partners to build the final uncompleted portion of the Dakota Access pipeline.

The executive actions are subject to terms and conditions to be negotiated by the United States,” said President Trump. ##

(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 to Buy Manufactured Home Community, to Preserve Affordable Housing

December 27th, 2016 Comments off
CountytoBuyManufacturedHomePropertyinEfforttoPreserveAffordableHousingcreditAspenTimes-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

Philips Mobile Home Park. Credit: Aspen Daily News.

Pitkin County, Colorado commissioners have elected to advance their planned acquisition of the 76.3 acre Phillips Mobile Home Park in Snowmass, with a focus on preserving affordable housing options.

According to the Aspen Daily News, current owner, Helen Noyes, and her son, Hiram, have continued to maintain the property as affordable housing “to this day without any county requirement to do so, but, rather, by offering rents well below the midvalley market price to residents,” said county attorney John Ely.

The family can no longer afford the costs involved in continuing to operate and maintain the property in its current status, and has determined to sell the property.

Ely estimates that about 60 residents call the community home, and that if Noyes were to put the property on the open market that new owners would likely re-develop it, which would displace current residents and take a significant chunk of affordable housing out of the local market.

The county plans to purchase the land with proceeds from the county’s affordable housing fund.

The county could use the property as it sees fit,” said Ely. “It could be tasked all or in part to other departments, like open space, or leased out for agriculture.

But, as the Daily Business News recently reported with a similar situation in Manassas, Virginia, there are issues in the community that need to be addressed, including the septic system.

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Credit: Aspen Daily News.

We need to incorporate language into the ordinance that says we will do the best we can on these issues given the circumstances, said Commissioner Patti Clapper.

We might need a person to manage the property,” added Ely. “Hiram has indicated an interest in staying on for a year.

The opportunity also exists for additional affordable housing projects.

There is the potential of subdividing the property so that we could allow the construction of stick-built or modular homes, or even tiny homes,” Ely said.

The acquisition represents a deep commitment by the county to its citizens. I am proud to be part of that commitment,” said Commissioner Michael Owsley.

The community will be coming together to imagine what this property could be. It presents infinite possibilities for the betterment of Pitkin County.

The vote to purchase the property by commissioners was unanimous, and it will be considered on final reading in January.

A report by MHLivingNews comparing Tiny Houses to manufactured homes is linked here.  A report that compares site-built, manufactured and modular homes, is linked here. ##

(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.

It’s Auction Block for Crumbling MHC

June 7th, 2012 Comments off

AthensNews tells MHProNews.com from Ohio many of the factory-built homes in the Pine Aire MHC in Athens have been abandoned and vandalized following the storm that tore through it nearly two years ago, and now that the community is in foreclosure for back taxes, there is no one to do the management end. An Athens County Common Pleas Court issued a default judgment against owner Ray Croxford in April for $170,000 for three different parcels including Pine Aire. Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn said the situation is complicated by the lack of proper lease records for the homesites, but the 42 sites will be auctioned June 27 based solely on the back taxes, sheriff’s fees, and court costs of $152,363. The remaining residents, mostly elderly on fixed incomes, are mowing their own lawns and uncertain as to when they might have to move their homes, some of which will present a definite challenge.

(Photo credit: AthensNews/Dustin Franz)

Local market bucks trends, may provide clues to boost housing

September 12th, 2011 Comments off

Graphic credit Savannah Now 9.12.2011SavannahNow reports on a bright spot of the nations housing market that has benefited single family, modular, townhome and condo sales. Sales hit a four year high in Chatham, Bryan and Effingham county areas of South Carolina. 416 homes changed hands in August, the third month running this area has topped 400 closings here. What’s the reason? “We are a bright spot, a very bright spot, and it feels like we’re going to have a good September as well,” said Monica Spillane, president of the Savannah Area Board of Realtors. “People are finally getting the message that real estate is a local decision. It’s about what’s going on in town or in a particular area of town and not what’s going on across the state or the country.” Local companies are hiring in this market. “Gulfstream and the others are bringing in a lot of people, and while the newcomers love Savannah, they like the price point and the ease of access to I-95 out this way,” said LaTrelle Pevey, who owns ERA Adams-Pevey Real Estate. “Buyers are finding the price points and larger lots appealing.” The message seems to be if your local economy is doing well, tout that fact to attract home buyers, because it is the local economy that matters.

 

(Graphic Credit: Savannah Now)