A proclamation from Gov. Phil Bryant declaring October “Manufactured Home Month” noted the factory-built dwellings provide housing for 507,000 Mississippians.
But there could soon be manufactured housing for far fewer people in Pearl, a Rankin County city of about 25,000 residents.
Public safety and a desire to keep non-conforming land uses from “going on forever” are behind expansive zoning changes the City Council will consider later this month,
Mayor Brad Rogers and City Attorney James Bobo say.
”The proposals snuff out manufactured home parks and other land uses that don’t fit within Pearl’s zoning code. They also limit so-called “manufactured home subdivisions,” apartment complexes and condominium complexes to six dwelling units per net acre and mandate specific minimum square-footage sizes, lot sizes and sizes for green space and yards. Not surprisingly, the measure is drawing strong criticism from attorneys for manufactured home parks and apartment complexes as well as the heads of the Homebuilders Association of Mississippi and the Mississippi Manufactured Housing Association.
They argue the proposals tread on property rights and violate state and federal constitutional protections. Litigation is certain, they say. The land-use revisions would follow stringent building code requirements that went into effect in October. Codes now mandate rental properties install interior sprinkler systems and build community storm shelters equipped to withstand the force of F-2 tornadoes.
Pearl also no longer allows mobile home parks in commercially zoned districts to re-rent spaces after a space is vacated. Jackson’s State Street Group, owners of Pearl’s Grove Acres Park, has sued to overturn the replacement ban.
The newest ordinance, drafted by Bobo on his own initiative was scheduled for a City Council public hearing Jan. 20. Confronted by dozens of residents protesting the measure, council members tabled the zoning changes, tentatively resetting the hearing for Feb. 17. When approved, the ordinance will initiate set a calendar countdown for “termination” of all “non-conforming” uses.
Mayor Rogers said in a Jan. 22 interview that he is talking with individuals and groups to try to reach a consensus on City treatment of non-conforming land uses.
A chief target of the current proposal: Factory-built homes in longstanding manufactured home communities in districts designated for Agriculture and Industrial (I-2). Until now, the homes have enjoyed “special exceptions” allowing them to remain under conditional-use permits.
Pearl lacks a zoning designation that allows manufactured homes. The closest to one is the Manufactured Home Subdivision, or MHS, designation for factory-built homes on individually titled lots. These, too, are targeted for dramatic change through a provision of the proposed ordinance that will bring them conforming status once they meet a host of requirements. These include limiting the dwellings to six per net acre, a calculation that excludes setbacks and driveways.
Further, they must meet a minimum size of 1,400 square feet, requirements for the community storm shelter and specifications for open space, yards, streets and parking. Manufactured homes less than 5 years old that do not meet the rules on square-footage size must be moved out by June 1, 2020, the proposed ordinance says.
The proposed ordinance sets a series of “amortization” periods for owners of non-conforming property owners. These, city officials say, are intended to give owners time to recoup their investments, though park owners say the June 1, 2016 deadline for removal of manufactured homes is hardly sufficient to cover substantial sums previously invested in the aesthetics and infrastructure of their parks.
The ordinance lets property owners request more time to comply (see accompanying information box for details).
The June 1, 2016 deadline applies to non-conforming homes in PUD (Planned Unit Development) and commercial districts C-1, C-2, C-3, industrial district D-1, Warehouse-Industrial district 1-1and any overlay district.
Owners of manufactured homes situated in a Manufactured Home Division district or I-2 Industrial district must meet the new six-units an acre density rule, 1,400 square-foot size rule and open-space rule by June 1, 2017.
Non-conforming properties older than 5 years that remain after the 2017 deadline are to be declared nuisances and subject to “termination.”
Just what “termination” entails is unclear. City Attorney Bobo said termination does not “necessarily” mean demolition of the structure. Such an outcome is “unlikely,” he said. “Historically, the city works with land owners to bring properties into compliance.”
Most demolitions would require a court action in which the owner will have an opportunity for “judicial review,” Bobo said.
In addressing apartment and condo complexes in the High Density Residential district (R-4) or Townhouse/Patio Home Residential district, the ordinance uses the age of the complex in setting the deadline for submitting plans and carrying out plans for compliance with density rules, minimum square footage rules and other regulations.
Multi-family complexes more than 40 years old must file a conformity plan with the city by June 1, 2016 and fulfill the plan by June 1, 2017. Complexes under 40 years old but older than 30 must submit a plan by June 1, 2018 and carry it out by June 1, 2020.
Complexes under 30 have will have until June 1, 2018 to present a compliance plan and until June 1, 2025 to fulfill it.
There’s a catch on the multi-family front, however.
Pearl will apply the “50 percent rule” by which building permits are refused if the city determines bringing a structure up to code and zoning compliance exceeds 50 percent of the building’s appraised value. The appraised value used would be the one set by the Rankin County tax assessor, or by Pearl’s community development director in instances in which the building is not separately valued by the tax assessor.
Under Pearl’s current zoning rules, a one-bedroom multi-family unit must be at least 850 square feet; two bedroom units 1,050 square feet and three or more bedrooms 1,500 square feet.
Likewise, condo townhouses in the R-3 zone must be a minimum of 1,500 square feet.
For all multi-family complexes, 35 percent of the total gross area must be open space, according to the zoning ordinance.
(This story was updated to note the Pearl City Council’s tabling of the non-conforming use ordinance that was to be the subject of a public hearing on Jan.20}
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