Huntsville Planning Commission prepares to take aim at mobile homes inside city limits
By Walker County News Today staff
After least year’s citizen backlash over proposed mobile home restrictions, the city of Huntsville is once again poised to try to take on the issue of mobile homes within the city limits.
The subject of mobile homes located in the Huntsville city limits was back in the spotlight at Thursday night’s meeting of the Huntsville Planning and Zoning Commission.
The discussion primarily centered around aesthetics and property values. When the issue of safety arose, Aron Kulhavy, Huntsville’s Community & Economic Development director, reminded the commission that city staff is not qualified to inspect manufactured homes.
Proposed Rules for Existing Mobile Home Parks
The city offered several proposals to planning commission members to consider. These proposals, if the City Council approved them, would be retroactive and would likely require current mobile home park owners to spend significant amounts of money to bring the parks up to new standards. The proposed regulation would hold the park owner responsible for the individual units within the park even if the property owner doesn’t own the individual homes.
The planning commission approved recommendation of the following proposed regulations:
- Require all existing homes, regardless of age, be skirted. Mobile home skirting is the material that acts as a barrier between the outside world and the underneath of a manufactured home.
- Require a screen or buffer surrounding the park. A screen or buffer is a strip of land, including any specified type and amount of landscape plantings or structures that may be required to protect one type of land use from another or minimize or eliminate conflicts between them.
- Require a paved impervious surface for emergency vehicle access. A pavement width is the portion of the surface of the street available for vehicular traffic; if curbed, it is that portion of street between back of curb and back of curb.
- Require screening around Dumpster areas as in Option 2.
- Require outside signage that includes park name and address. Signage is any identification, description, illustration, or device illuminated or non-illuminated that is visible to the public from adjoining streets or adjoining properties and that directs attention to a product, service, place, activity, person, institution, business, or solicitation, including any permanently installed or situated merchandise; or any emblem, painting, banner, pennant, placard, temporary sign, light, decoration, balloon or other device designed to attract attention, advertise, identify or convey information. Building details that are an integral part of the overall architectural design of a building or works of art accessory to a building are not considered signs.
- Require outside lighting at a rate equal to that of subdivision lighting standards.
City staff estimates that there are approximately 40 mobile home parks, which contain well over 1,000 homes, within the city of Huntsville that would be subject to the proposed new regulations.
No mention was made of any other types of commercial properties that may be subject to retroactive regulations. Discussion did not include any specific time frame for compliance if the regulations are ultimately approved for inclusion in the Development Code.
Commission member Tommy Cummings referred to the proposed regulations as “putting lipstick on a pig.”
Proposed Rules for Mobile Homes Being Moved into Huntsville
These rules, if adopted, will affect any mobile/manufactured home that will be moved in to the city limits of Huntsville whether in to a mobile home park, a mobile home subdivision, or onto other private property.
The planning commission approved recommendation of the following regulations:
- Require homes to be no older than 20 years (currently, built in or after 1996 and changing yearly).
- Require an outdoor storage building. A storage building is a shed or garage used to store outdoor equipment such as gardening tools, bicycles, etc.
- Require that homes have a minimum size.
- Limit the number of mobile homes allowed per property to two. To locate more than two mobile homes per property would require development as a mobile home subdivision.
Action by the planning commission is not automatically included in the city’s Development Code. City staff submits code revision language based on the commission’s recommendations back to the commission for its approval. City Council has final approval of the commission’s formal recommendations.
Citizens concerned about any of the proposed changes should contact Kulhavy at 936-291-5400.
Additional proposals regarding mobile homes are likely to be forthcoming in future P&Z meetings.
The public can view the entire meeting here.