Council backtracks on zoning idea

Published on Thu, Aug 30, 2001 by Laura Thoren

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Council backtracks on zoning idea

By Laura Thoren

Spurred by their wish to accommodate one property owners’ request to put a manufactured home on a single lot, city council has backtracked and allowed them on all lots in the planned residential zone.

At their August 27 meeting council members voted unanimously to adopt an amendment to the manufactured home ordinance they had approved in May, which prohibits manufactured homes on single residential lots anywhere in Blaine. That ordinance allowed the homes only in manufactured home parks and subdivisions in the planned residential zone, which corresponds roughly to the area of the east Blaine annexation.

The amendment approved this week will allow manufactured homes on single lots in that zone, but only if the property owner jumps through a few hoops.

City community and economic development director Terry Galvin said property owners who could show that it would be economically unfeasible to put a stick-built house on their lot could apply to the city for administrative approval of a manufactured home. “We set up a very public process,” Galvin said, which would involve community meetings to gather feedback from neighbors. Manufactured homes would also be individually reviewed by the planning department for neighborhood compatibility. Galvin said they would look at factors ranging from architectural similarity and adequate storage for outdoor accessories.

By adopting the amendment, council can keep their word to property owner Ron Freeman, who asked for and got an exemption to the manufactured home ordinance on August 13. However, according to city attorney John Sitkin, “city council didn’t have the authority change the ordinance” in the manner they did.

In a public hearing prior to the council vote, representatives of the manufactured housing industry were back to push for less rigid limits on placement of the homes. “It’s a myth that manufactured homes are a depreciating commodity,” said John Lee of Coach Corral homes.

A neighbor to the Freeman property, John Penno, voiced concern about problems with drainage and sewer leaks on the property. “Whether it’s stick built or manufactured, these problems need to be addressed,” he said. After the hearing, Penno said he was disappointed council hadn’t stood their ground. “ They’re a very compassionate group of people, but now they’ve done this how long before someone in the main part of town asks for the same thing?” he asked.

Galvin said the recent decision was not necessarily a reversal of council’s previous decision not to allow manufactured homes on single lots. “Not all of it, just some of it,” he said. “We still don’t allow infilling in most neighborhoods and we allow it in planned residential only in case of financial hardship.”

Council also adopted another amendment to the manufactured home ordinance that allowed owners of older mobile homes a chance to replace them with a newer model.”

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