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Exclusion of Manufactured Homes

There are many states, counties, cities and communities that try to regulate manufactured and modular homes out of their areas because of misconceptions about the difference between the old "mobile homes" with metal roofs and sides and Manufactured Homes. Today's modern Manufactured Homes are well constructed, eye appealing and long lasting when properly setup. These homes are, in many ways, better than the average stick built or site built homes of today. Generally there are a few misconceptional reasons for trying to exclude Manufactured Homes. Some of these are:  they don't fit in, they look funny, they cheapen the neighborhood, they bring in riff raff and they are cheap ugly homes. This is the same as being prejudiced about anything without all the information.

H.U.D. regulations require that Manufactured Homes be allowed in any setting with a minimal amount of regulation other than what is afforded to other housing in the same area. This means that there are not supposed to be restrictive requirements that are designed just to keep manufactured homes out of a community. There can be reasonable requirements to have them fit in with the existing neighborhood such as wood or vinyl siding instead of metal which one hardly ever sees anymore except on some single wides. Or it could be required that the homes be set on a block, brick or concrete foundation so they look similar to the other homes in an area. There is also a manner of setup called a "pit set" where a hole is dug approximately 18 to 24 inches in the ground and the home is setup so the floor line is approximately at ground level. There are many ways to setup a manufactured home in such a way as to have it compliment the neighborhood.

What can you do when a government entity tries to regulate manufactured homes out by restrictive codes? You can try to educate them and educate the community. You can get your state Manufactured Housing Association to try to help you in getting proper zoning laws written. You can let your state and local legislators know that what they are doing is basically illegal and if you have the time and money, as a last resort, you can take them to court. There are ways to make complaints to H.U.D. but it usually takes a long time for them to act on it. The best way is to work with your state and local authorities and manufactured home dealerships to get laws passed that will be in accord with federal law regulating the manufacture, sale, and placement of this modern, beautiful, affordable housing. Below we have a news article showing what one Manufactured Home Community did when their local authorities refused to allow them to expand their community to include more housing.

Judge rules North Liberty can't block mobile homes

Posted July 7, 1999
By Lynn M. Tefft
Gazette Johnson County Bureau

NORTH LIBERTY -- City leaders are debating what to do since a judge ruled in favor of developers who want to put more manufactured homes in the city, while the developers themselves are deciding their next move.

Judge Lynne Brady ruled last week that the North Liberty City Council broke the law when it declined to rezone two parcels of property owned by Thomas and Al Streb, who want to put manufactured homes on the land.

North Liberty City Administrator Tim Shanahan said the City Council will discuss its options with the city attorney during an executive session at the next council meeting Tuesday.

"The city of North Liberty believes it didn't do anything against Iowa Code," Shanahan said.

The Strebs, in a lawsuit filed in April last year in Johnson County District Court, asked that the city be prohibited from discriminating against mobile home development and that part of the city's comprehensive plan be declared in violation of Iowa law.

In 1997, the Strebs asked the city to rezone two parcels of land -- one classified commercial, the other agricultural -- to the manufactured home designation.

Both parcels are adjacent to a mobile home park owned by the Strebs. Adding the parcels would have allowed about 50 new mobile homes in the area.

The city's Planning and Zoning Commission recommended the City Council reclassify the commercial parcel but not the agricultural one. The council declined to reclassify either.

Brady agreed with the Strebs' allegation that a clause in the city's comprehensive plan, which states no additional mobile home land designations will be added to the city, violates part of state law.

The Iowa Code prohibits cities from adopting or enforcing zoning regulations that disallow specifications of a proposed residential structure solely because it is a manufactured home.

Brady noted that the city, in its brief to the court, alluded to other reasons for denying the rezoning requests but never cited them.

"It was clear that the city denied these requests because they simply did not want any more manufactured homes," she wrote.

Brady concluded, "Whether there are legitimate grounds on which these requests can be denied remains to be seen, but this denial was in violation of Iowa law."

Shanahan said if the rezoning requests end up before the City Council again, council members will feel they have no choice but to approve them even though they don't want to.

Thomas Streb said he and Al Streb have not decided what they will do next but added they still want to put manufactured homes on the land.

"That's what the lawsuit was all about," he said.

From the October 1999 issue of Manufactured Home Merchandiser

A recent study conducted by the Department of Planning at East Carolina University found that in North Carolina, zoning ordinances that discriminate against manufactured housing often place residents of such homes at a greater risk of harm than residents of other housing types in the area.

The report said that this greater endangerment exists because in each county "manufactured housing has been placed further away from most 'positive' public-community facilities or services" than other homes.

The study found that most manufactured homes were zoned away from environmental, health and emergency rescue services, as well as from cultural, recreational and educational facilities: and auto, food, shopping and other businesses.

In addition, the study found that manufactured homes were often placed in flood zones and closer to landfill sites or solid waste treatment facilities.

The study recommended that manufactured housing developments not be excluded from cities or suburbs, where the homes meet zoning and subdivision standards.

The study, entitled "Identification and Measurement of Zoning Barriers Related to Manufactured Housing: A Location and Accessibility Analysis," was conducted by researchers Guoqulang Shen, Ph.D., and Richard A. Stephenson, Ph.D.

The study was reported by the North Carolina Manufactured Housing Institute (NCMHI) in its August newsletter.

Most of the problems related to zoning restrictions for manufactured homes are probably due to ignorance. Manufactured homes are not the "trailers" they used to be but that is how many people still think of them. The people who make the laws need to be thoroughly educated in any area they are dealing with before making decisions.

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