Blaine City Council approved an emergency six-month moratorium on processing manufactured home park building permit applications during its May 22 meeting. The ban will allow city staff time to clean up inconsistencies in the city code that have been at the center of debate for over a year.
The city’s attorney, Jon Sitkin, presented the moratorium to council after an executive session at the end of the meeting. Sitkin said the impetus for the moratorium was a now-withdrawn proposal to change the city’s planned unit development (PUD) code text, which conflicts with the underlying zoning code, to allow manufactured home parks.
JIJ Corporation owners Skip and Katie Jansen, who are developing East Harbor Hills in east Blaine, submitted the zoning text amendment request shortly after purchasing the property in fall of 2021. East Blaine residents voiced strong opposition to the idea of a manufactured home park while planning commission mulled over the amendment request, and the Jansens ultimately decided to withdraw their request a month ago.
The city’s underlying zoning code allows for manufactured home parks in east Blaine and has a section on their regulations. However, the city’s code does not allow manufactured home parks in planned unit developments (PUDs), which are required for manufactured home parks that are five acres or larger. Skip Jansen has said the inconsistencies originate from several code changes in the early 2000s.
“You have a series of internal conflicts that make some of these a nullity, which raises the question, if it’s a nullity, why do you even have a manufactured home park code section?” Sitkin said during the council meeting. “It’s a confusing code you have regarding manufactured home parks.”
The moratorium will allow city staff to develop new regulations for manufactured home parks and consult community members and developers about what those regulations could look like and where they could be allowed, Sitkin said.
Sitkin added council could vote to rescind the moratorium before the six-month mark.
Council approved the moratorium 5-1, with councilmember Mike Hill opposed and councilmember Garth Baldwin absent.
“My hope is that we can push our city staff to do it in a shorter period of time because it is on us, and by us, I mean the last 15 years of council, to have not fixed this in the first place,” councilmember Eric Davidson said.
Council’s decision comes after Skip Jansen sent a May 19 letter to council and city staff threatening to sue the city if JIJ Corporation was denied the opportunity to make a manufactured home park application. Skip Jansen explained in the letter that the developers had followed staff’s recommendation to not apply for a PUD application and instead apply for the text amendment at the beginning of 2022. Jansen requested in the letter that staff make an administrative interpretation on whether it would accept a PUD application with a manufactured home park.
“We feel if we are again denied the opportunity to make an application, especially after more than a year and a half of following the city’s direction, we will be financially harmed and will have little recourse but to seek damages against the city,” Jansen wrote.
After the meeting, Jansen said he didn’t agree with council’s decision to enact the moratorium and stood by his letter.
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