Planning & Zoning Looks At Mobile Home Ordinances

By mMark Evans

[email protected]

Members of the Ste. Genevieve Planning and Zoning Commission approved of GHS Holdings’ request to rezone a parcel of land on Highway 32 and approved several revisions to city zoning ordinances during last Thursday’s meeting.

GHS was requesting rezoning of a parcel of land at 21551 Highway 32 upon annexation into the city – which has been requested of the board of aldermen.

In March 2020, the Planning and Zoning Commission went through the same process on an adjoining parcel, near James Auto Body, where GHS wanted to open a Kona Ice business. They obtained the rezoning first, then were approved for annexation as a commercial property, similar to neighbors James Auto Body, Oberle Meats and Vern Bauman Contracting.

Tiffany Holman spoke for GHS.

Commission member Tony Grass asked whether any adjoining property owners had complained once GHS’s earlier business opened.

David Bova, community development administrator, said he had received none.

“I received one call, just asking what a rezoning was,” he said. “I described it and they completely understood.”

Commission member Carl Kinsky asked if they were planning on opening a grocery store.

“It will be a produce market,” Holman said.

Kinsky asked if it would be seasonal.

“We’ll be open for Christmas trees, but winter will be slow,” Holman said. “We’ll possibly close in January.”

“So, you’re not anticipating any major traffic problem on 32?” Kinsky asked.

“No more than we have now,” Holman said.

The commission voted unanimously to forward the request to the aldermen, who will hodl a public hearing at their Aprill 22 meeting. Bryant abstained.

MOBILE HOMES ARE ADDRESSED

The first two discussions on zoning ordinance revisions centered around non-conforming mobile homes.

Bova has delved into the issue of aging, unsafe mobile homes in the city the past couple of years, including the formation of a Ste. Genevieve Rental Housing Advisory Commission.

First, the commission tackled Section 405.140, “Non-Conforming Uses, G.” The existing ordinance reads “that the replacement of a mobile home with a newer or improved model mobile home by the owner of the existing mobile home under the provisions of the special use regulations of this Chapter shall not be considered such a change so as to alter the pre-existing non-conforming use.”

In other words, a mobile home may continue to sit in a non-mobile home area if the existing one is replaced with a newer or better model.

Much discussion took place on the exact wording of the “newer or improved model” line. Bova noted that the quality of mobile homes has risen drastically over the years – especially since current Housing and Urban Development [HUD] standards were adopted on June 15, 1976.

Bova said life expectancy for mobile homes range from 30 to 55 years in the post-HUD era, but that the figure was probably half that for ones built before 1976.

“A lot of older trailers have really short shelf lives,” he said. “They’re just not meant to last that long.”

Bova  noted that the way the ordinance is worded, a 1970 mobile home could re replaced with a 1971 model, “which really isn’t what the city is looking for in terms of the safety and security of the people that are living there, and in terms of fire safety and other things.”

He  suggested that “newer or improved model” be replaced with “a mobile home manufactured no more than 10 years prior to application for replacement.”

Therefore, today, a 2011 model would be the oldest allowable replacement mobile home.

Commission member Justin Donovan asked if “improved” would be kept in the wording.

“You could get one that’s less than 10 years old and not be an improvement,” he said.

How to define “improved” would be an issue.

Commission member Carl Kinsky asked wether the change could turn out to be counter-productive.

“Let’s say a guy’s got a  mobile home there that was built in 1970 and he wants to replace it with a mobile home that was built in 1995. That’s probably an improvement over the 1970 mobile home, but it’s not going to be in compliance. They might not be ale to afford a mobile home made after 2011.”

He added that he is “no expert on the mobile home market.”

He fears it could “discourage some replacements” from being made.

Bova said “or improved” could be added, but that “There is some very strong subjectivity there,” in how to define “improved.”

It was finally decided that “newer or improved model mobile home” be replaced with “improved mobile home manufactured no more than 10 years prior to application for replacement.”

It passed by voice vote.