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March 12, 2008 


MOBILE HOME, MODULAR HOME, AND PERSONAL OPINIONS 

Statement made at a recent P & Z Committee Meeting:  “Your personal opinions have nothing to do with definitions or ordinances.  You can’t expect the people of Jasper County to live according to your personal opinions!” 

 The last P&Z Committee Meeting was held Wednesday, March 5 at 6:30PM.  After getting a message about what went on at that meeting, citizens of Jasper County might be very wise to attend the next meeting—TODAY, Wednesday, March 12 at 6:30 PM.

 This is an email that was sent to TWG by a citizen that attended the 3/5/08 meeting:  (TWG comments in blue italics)

 The Committee (appointed by the Commissioners) continues to go through a long, long list of definitions. It is amazing how long people can expound on a simple definition.  The first definition of the evening was “mobile home/modular home”.  This “discussion” took one hour – 6:30 to 7:30.  Member 1 who lives in Turtle Cove and came to Jasper County from DeKalb County, took off on a rant that she and her husband were forced to live in a mobile home when they were first married and attending college.  She continued and said she swore if she ever got out of that “trailer”, she would never live in another one.  And she hasn’t.  Then she defined ‘mobile home’ for everyone. 

 First, she changed the term to ‘trailer’ and said it was a thing you live in that comes in on wheels and then you hide the wheels.  Then she said little children burn up in trailers all the time and no one should live in one.  During her rant, she shared that she drives 67 miles one way to work in Atlanta and that she finds trailers very offensive and it upsets her to have to see them.  Therefore, she proposed that Jasper County pass an ordinance that no trailers can be in Jasper County at all, no matter how many acres a person owns.  
(Obviously, this committee member, who must not have read the existing Zoning Ordinances, doesn’t know that “trailers”, that being “Single Wide Trailers” have not been allowed in Jasper County for at least 10 years and maybe longer.  Any “single wides” still existing in Jasper County are “grandfathered in.”)

 
Committee Member 2 had been closely listening to her rant.  When she finally ran out of breath, he told her that she had introduced another definition that the committee was not dealing with because it had no connection to planning, zoning, and ordinances.  She didn’t understand so he explained that ‘trailer’ is a thing on wheels pulled behind another vehicle and commonly used for camping.  He then asked her if she really thought she could pass an ordinance not allowing anyone to drive through Jasper County pulling one or having one on their property. 

Interestingly, Don Broussard—the Urban Planner--agreed with Member 1, except that he pointed out that Member 2 was correct on the terminology.  Broussard read the definitions of mobile home and modular home from his book, which stated that ‘mobile home’ is an obsolete term and the correct term to use is ‘modular home’.  He read the definition of ‘modular home’ a couple of times, but Member 1 just couldn’t accept it.  She said it didn’t matter what you call it, it is still offensive and still a safety issue. (Offensive to her doesn’t make it legal or illegal.  Offensive, like beauty, is a judgment call and as the saying goes, is in the eye of the beholder.)

 At one point, Member 1 actually had the nerve to angrily say to Member 2, “And just what is your point?”  Member 2 replied, “My point is that your bad experience in a mobile home when you were young and your personal opinions have nothing to do with definitions or ordinances.  You can’t expect the people of Jasper County to live according to your personal opinions!”  That didn’t make any impression on Member 1.  She then went on about how unsafe “trailers” are and that people burn up in them. 

 Member 1 then jumped to another subject--the “fact” that Jasper County requires a house to be 1800 sq. ft. to “insure high quality” homes are built(as if the size of the house has anything to do with the quality)    Member 2 tried to explain to her that modular homes go through inspections and are required to be built to standard, but a stick built house is not, no matter how many sq. ft. is required.  She either couldn’t comprehend that or didn’t want to.

 Remember – the purpose of the meeting is to review definitions and make sure that the definitions are updated and consistent throughout the ordinance manual.  They are not there to propose ordinances or to propose changes to ordinances.  However, no one ever pointed this out for almost an hour.  Finally, Member 2 did think of this and reminded the first that that was not their purpose and that they did not have that authority.  Broussard seemed to be surprised by that statement, but did agree and suggested that they move on.  (Is Broussard being paid by the hour to listen and moderate these meetings?)

 Member 1 was not ready to move on and didn’t even seem to hear Broussard, but raised her voice in a passionate plea, “Yes, we can, and we are!  We have the power to say no more mobile homes in Jasper County and that is what we are going to do!”  (Appoint someone to a committee and they think they have powers they don’t have but try to use them anyway.) This led to more arguments about young people needing affordable housing and older people needing smaller, affordable housing, and that many people like and favor mobile/modular homes.  Broussard kept trying to move on and finally they did.

 Then the Zoning Director, Chris Anderson, mentioned Hillsboro and Member 1 made a comment that Hillsboro wasn’t a very big town and there was nothing much there.  Chris told her it was once a booming town, bigger than Monticello, with 2 banks, 2 country grocery stores, and many other businesses.  She was shocked and wanted to know what happened, but then she went on to say that it was her opinion that Hillsboro should be told that they will now use a village concept for any new homes – around the little store area – and certainly, no more trailers!

 Eventually, the committee came to the definition for “land remnant” and Member 1 couldn’t understand that definition either.  This led to another prolonged discussion.  She thought the term should be thrown out because, according to her, it is the same thing as a ‘nonconforming lot’. 

 
These live performances are more entertaining than anything one can find on TV.   Citizens are urged to attend for information and entertainment!

 TWG Note: There are 5 members on the Committee.  According to the citizen that did attend—

One member did not attend.  Another came in around 7:40 (an hour late), sat down, got up and went to the restroom, and then returned to the table.  He did not have his notebook of definitions with him.  He never uttered a word, not even “hello” or “sorry I’m late.”  He appeared to be bored and eager to leave.  A third one didn’t say much; she occasionally asked Broussard to explain part of a definition or asked him to look up something in his book.  Basically the Committee is Member 1 who wants Jasper County to have laws that in her opinion are “how it should be/look/stay/change”, Member 2 who asks questions and expects honest answers, and the Urban Planner.

 
TWG has investigated definitions and learned the following:

What Are Modular Homes?

  • Modular homes are built in sections at a factory.
  • Modular homes are built to conform to all state, local or regional building codes at their destinations.
  • Sections are transported to the building site on truck beds, then joined together by local contractors.
  • Local building inspectors check to make sure a modular home's structure meets requirements and that all finish work is done properly.
  • Modular homes are sometimes less expensive per square foot than site built houses.  
  • A well-bult modular home should have the same longevity as its  site 
    built conterpart, increasing in value over time.

This is a picture of a Modular Home:

Modular

(This is not a “Horton Home”, but Horton builds “Modular” homes.)
 

What Are Manufactured Homes?

  • Formerly referred to as mobile homes or trailers, but with many more style options than in the past.
  • Manufactured houses are built in a factory.
  • They conform to a Federal building code, called the HUD code, rather than to building codes at their destinations.
  • Manufactured homes are built on a non-removable steel chassis.
  • Sections are transported to the building site on their own wheels.
  • Multi-part manufactured units are joined at their destination.
  • Segments are not always placed on a permanent foundation, making them more difficult to re-finance.
  • Building inspectors check the work done locally (electric hook up, etc.) but are not required to approve the structure.
  • Manufactured housing is generally less expensive than site built and modular homes.
  • Manufactured homes sometimes decrease in value over time.

These are pictures of Manufactured Homes:

Manf1
manuf2

This is a picture of a TRAILER as described by Member 1.  The only remaining ones in the County are those that have been here more than 10 years and are grandfathered in.

Trailer
Code Enforcement has done nothing about this one.

Stickhouse

This is a site built house.  As long as a house is site built and 1800 square feet, Member 1 says it is “high quality.”

TWG encourages citizens to take an active part in these new proposed Zoning Ordinances.  As you can tell, they will affect you and someone else’s opinion will be the “guiding light.”

TWG
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