Citizens request changes to zoning

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 6, 2007

DEMOPOLIS &045; The closing of Mauvilla Trialer Park is causing concern among some residents that future zoning variances will depreciate property values in areas where mobile and manufactured homes are currently prohibited.

Charles Singleton, chairman of the city’s Board of Adjustments, petitioned the city council last night for a moratorium to be placed on zoning variances for manufactured homes.

Brian Brooker, chairman of the Historic Preservation Commission, joined Singleton in the request. Brooker said the moratorium would allow the city to consider creating districts designed for single-location manufactured homes. The city currently has a zoning designation for trialer parks, but Brooker said it does not address the needs of individuals who want to purchase a

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manufactured home or who desire to place their trialer on a single lot.

Councilman Thomas Moore said he understood the concern of property owners but that his main concern was with the people in Mauvilla who were being forced to move. He said some people could not afford to purchase a site-built house but did not want to live in government housing.

Sylvia Bryant, a homeowner near Mauvilla, told the council that she sympathized with those who were having to move with the closing of the trailer park but that she wanted to protect what she had invested in her house.

Bryant took issue with variances that have been granted in her area.

Gus Weiss, another homeowner, said areas with mobile homes along Maria Drive have become deplorable. He said the issue does have a humanitarian side to it &045; where are the residents of Mauvilla going to live &045; but that devaluing property by allowing manufactured homes in areas where they are currently prohibited is not the answer.

Brooker said that while site-build housing appreciates with time that both mobile homes and manufactured housing &045; which can be attached to a slab and looks much like a regular house &045; depreciates just as a car does.

However, he said he would hate to see the City of Demopolis do as other municipalities have done, which is to ban all mobile homes within their city limits. He said the city has areas where it could be appropriate and zoning designation that would allow for parks to be build in other areas not already zoned for more restrictive residential use.

Councilmen Charles Jones and Woody Collins both voiced concerns over the legality of the city passing a moratorium. Jones said it was his understanding that as long as the city had a statute on the books that gave the Board of Adjustments the authority to pass zoning variances that they could do so.

Collins urged the Board of Adjustments to summarily deny all zoning requests until the council could research the moratorium and also bring other groups together to discuss possible changes in zoning. Brooker said that could be problematic because there is precedent on the board to grant variances.

At the suggestion of Mayor Cecil Williamson, the council voted to postpone a decision on the moratorium until their April 19 meeting. Williamson said that any decision reached last night would not affect the four variance requests on the agenda of the Board of Adjustments’ May meeting.

The council has instructed City Attorney Rick Manley to have an answer as to the legality of a moratorium by the April 19 meeting, at which time they are expected to take action on the issue.