Council approves new rules for manufactured homes

Published on Thu, May 31, 2001 by Brendan Shriane

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Council approves new rules for manufactured homes

By Brendan Shriane

Blaine City Council, pressed for time with a moratorium on manufactured homes about to run out, unanimously approved an ordinance limiting their location to a 300-acre area in the eastern part of the city. The new law would limit the homes to subdivisions and parks of no less than three acres in size.

The zone would stretch from Park Side Drive west to Harvey Road and include the adjacent area on the east side of Harvey. “That’s more manufactured housing than we’ll ever need in our (20-year) planning process,” community and economic development director Terry Galvin said after the May 29 city council meeting.

Although council members supported the ordinance, Frank Bresnan Jr. brought up the lack of affordable housing. “We’ve shut the door on young people who want to own instead of rent,” he said.

Infilling will not be allowed in this ordinance. “The infilling would be great but H Street will be more than enough,” said Ray Acheson of Coast Corral Construction at the council meeting. “There’s quite a bit of land up there. I don’t have to have the whole piece of pie – just a nice cut will be great.”

Atcheson said that area is great for building homes, it’s close to the freeway, not many wetlands to deal with, and has access to water and other utilities. “It’s set up for big growth – it just needs somebody to spend some money.”

An exception to the new ordinance that would have allowed manufactured homes to be built on sites where a manufactured or mobile home already exists was proposed but tabled by mayor Dieter Schugt and will be dealt with at a later meeting. The grandfathering would have affected about 39 homes scattered around Blaine.

The issue was brought up by Bill Dodd, who spoke at a meeting of the council of the whole workshop before the regular council meeting. Dodd told how his mother was planning to return to her mobile home soon. He admitted her home was dilapidated and she wants to replace her aging mobile home with a new manufactured home. Under the new rule, she would not be able to do that.

“Mom cannot afford a stick-frame house; that’s just all there is to it.” Dodd thinks his mother’s situation is not unique. “I’m here asking you tonight if there could be something that would (allow) the existing homes – the existing trailers that are already there which in my estimation are eyesores, my mom’s is an eyesore,” to be replaced by modular homes.

Dodd thinks allowing homeowners to replace their dilapadated mobilehomes would be an improvement. “otherwise (those homeowners) are just going to sit on them because they can’t do anything and they can’t build stick homes on them (because of setbacks and other regulations),” Dodd said. “It would be an improvement to bring a modular home in and put it on that lot.”

Director of public works Grant Stewart agreed, saying sometimes there are unintended consequences of an otherwise well-meaning ordinance. “It might be an incentive for people not to upgrade trailers that should be upgraded if they weren’t allowed to,” he said. “They might live in a place that’s less safe than they might otherwise live in.”

Galvin suggested an amended ordinance on manufactured homes, but council members Marsha Hawkins and Bonnie Onyon said they weren’t comfortable with the grandfather clause. Hawkins asked whether the council would allow a dilapidated wood-frame home to be replaced with a manufactured home. “Where do you draw the line?” That now-new manufactured home will need to be replaced eventually, she said.

An earlier version of the ordinance called for manufactured homes to be allowed all the way to the far eastern boundary of the Blaine city limits, but that area was ruled off-limits because it is part of Blaine’s watershed. City officials worried that the area, which is not connected to the city’s sewer system, would be too expensive for the city to lay pipe in. Septic systems would not be allowed because of the threat of pollution.

Doug Connelly, a property owner in the area, thinks septic tanks would be a good solution until the city got its sewer situation taken care of. “I’ve got a lot of money invested in Blaine and it seems like anytime we try to do anything there’s an obstacle and this time it’s the sewer system.”

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