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Thread: Expansion of non-conforming use for unique situation

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Expansion of non-conforming use for unique situation

    I still stand by the fact that 6 months of a job or internship in planning can teach you more than a year in grad school.... case in point.

    On the surface it's a simple expansion of a non-conforming use. Mobile home in a R-1 zone, R-1 says no mobile homes. This one is grandfathered in. R-2 will allow mobile homes but the property is well within the R-1 zone so we can't rezone it to be included with the neighboring R-2 (which allows mobile homes). In school we just learn that you say sorry and we cannot accommodate your request to expand your mobile home.

    Fast forward out of school into real life. Woman and her 7 children were living in the said mobile home. DSS took her 7 children (+1 on the way) until she could have a larger home (more than 2 bedrooms in a mobile home) to accommodate them. Now what do you do? I feel horrible having to make this phone call because I know this woman cannot afford to move into a larger mobile home but could afford to buy a smaller mobile home to attach to the existing one, but that would be an expansion of a non-conforming and I cannot do that.

    I always stand by the mantra of "if I let you get away with it why should I say no to your neighbor, where do I draw the line".

    What would you do? Are there any remedies? Just goes to show that planning is never black and white and is not what you learned in school.

    Moderator note:
    Teaser Title Edited. Please use descriptive titles for threads outside the Friday Afternoon Club. Thanks.
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 24 May 2007 at 2:55 PM.
    @GigCityPlanner

  2. #2
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Sounds like you need to call the local Habitat for Humanity office or area churches. They may be willing to build her a larger stick-built home. What about a camper in the driveway?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    Many communities have provisions for the expansion of a nonconforming use, although it sounds like yours does not.

    My questions: If she is able to afford an addition onto her mobile home, she should have enough resources for a down payment on a single-family home.

    I understand your position and yes, they don't teach you everything in school. But a professor of mine once said. "As a planner, if someone isn't always mad at you, you're not doing your job."

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    By "mobile home", do you mean "manufactured home", or "literally has wheels"? If you mean the former, I might start working on a text amendment.

    Our R1 allows single-family homes and manufactured housing "located and installed according to the same standards" as a site-built home. (Similar language in all our residential districts.) As long as it meets setbacks, lot size, floor area, and lot coverage, it's cool by us - and we've never had a problem with this.

    RVs, on the other hand, we do not permit to be used as dwelling units.

    Do you allow use variances? (Could you, as staff, honestly recommend one in this situation?)

    What agencies in your area *do* work on affordable housing? The aforementioned Habitat might be a good place to start, or your local/County Community Development agency. If this family owns a lot and a "mobile home" already, these might be considered collateral - or at least proof of responsibility, making them a sympathetic case.

    But, once you run out of these avenues, you eventually are stuck with the zoning. Sorry.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by monkeyflower View post
    Our R1 allows single-family homes and manufactured housing "located and installed according to the same standards" as a site-built home. (Similar language in all our residential districts.) As long as it meets setbacks, lot size, floor area, and lot coverage, it's cool by us - and we've never had a problem with this.
    do you have lots for manufactured homes? our trailer parks don't have any lots.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    This is an existing mobile home (with wheels whether they work or not is another question). We have no housing commission. I might be able to contact H4H but time is of essence here. We do not allow use variances currently, you have to get rezoned and there is no compelling argument to allow the rezoning that wouldn't be considered spot zoning.

    We have lots of manufactured housing but they have their own lots. Mobile homes can be either, have their own lot or belong to a park.
    @GigCityPlanner

  7. #7
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Tide View post
    This is an existing mobile home (with wheels whether they work or not is another question). We have no housing commission. I might be able to contact H4H but time is of essence here. We do not allow use variances currently, you have to get rezoned and there is no compelling argument to allow the rezoning that wouldn't be considered spot zoning.

    We have lots of manufactured housing but they have their own lots. Mobile homes can be either, have their own lot or belong to a park.
    What about a zoning text amendment to allow for additions to manufactured homes, or a special permit or something? or would this violate the nonconformity clause?

  8. #8
    Cyburbian cch's avatar
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    So, your city council doesn't get to vote on whether to allow a zoning change to R-2 for her property? She can't even apply for it? (although, I'm guessing she doesn't have the funds for the application fee). At least if a zoning change or a text change, like Hildweller mentions, were voted on by the city council, they would be the "bad guy" and you wouldn't. Or maybe they'd take pity on her and approve it.

    In all honesty, I don't feel too sorry for irresponsible people who pop out more babies than they can afford. But it is the kids who suffer. That is the real tragedy... not the zoning ordinance rules.

  9. #9
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Question: is it a pre-HUD code trailer (1974 and earlier), or a post-code mobile home?

    Right now, considering the usual criteria for a zoning variance, I'd be the bad guy, and tell her "no".

    There are unique conditions peculiar to the parcel, such as an unusual shape; which do not exist on adjacent parcels. No. Doesn't apply.

    The strict application of the zoning regulations deprives the applicant of rights commonly enjoyed by other land in the area or land with a similar zoning designation. No. The property can still be used for a site-built single family home.

    The variance is in harmony with the spirit of the zoning code and comprehensive plan and will not aversely affect property near the subject site. Probably not. Have to see your comp plan to make a determination, but considering it prohibited mobile homes from the district, there is probably an underlying reason why.

    The conditions resulting in the variance request are not self-created or through disregard or ignorance of the zoning regulations. No. Seven kids and one on the way; it's a self-imposed hardship. Cruel, but true.

    The variance does not confer any special privilege that the underlying zoning does not permit on other lands, structures or buildings in the same zoning district. No. The variance request, if granted, would allow the appliant to have a mobile home on their property, while others in the same district cannot. This is really a use variance, which is poor planning practice.

    The variance is the minimum necessary to grant relief. No. It's a use variance, not a dimensional or numerical variance, or challenge of a zoning interpretation. It would grant relief, but you really can't consider whether the applicant has one child or ten. Remember, variances run with the land. The kids will eventually move away, and odds are the applicant will leave at some point in the distant future, too. When that happens, the reason for the variance is gone, and relief becomes a moot point.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian KSharpe's avatar
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    I think that you can't make this stuff your problem. This lady has been irresponsible and had more children then she can take care of with the resources she had. It's her job to get herself a solution she can live with.
    Do you want to pet my monkey?

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    There is a reason this property and the ones around it are R-1 and that's because when the last comp plan amendment was made it was changed to R-1 to reflect the surrounding new subdivisions.

    I would advise her against a rezoning because it doesn't meet any of the 4 criteria so I wouldn't want her to get false hope. The R-1 zone does not permit (therefore excludes) mobile homes or manufactured homes it's strictly stick frame detached single family.

    I'm just going to call her and lay out the law and explain there are few remedies and sick her on a councilman who can then call me and I can explain it to him/her and they can change or tell me to change as needed.
    @GigCityPlanner

  12. #12
    Actually, it is not be a zoning issue.

    Manufactured homes do not meet building codes. Once they come out of the factory, they cannot be structurally modified. So irregardless of your zoning provisions, living space cannot be added to a mobile home, nor a manufactured home.

    BTW, I'm surprised that I still have an account after all this time. I need to change the name though since I quit the damn AICP.
    In my life, I have met men both good, and evil. I defend my self against them all...

  13. #13
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Linden Smith View post
    BTW, I'm surprised that I still have an account after all this time. I need to change the name though since I quit the damn AICP.
    Off-topic:
    Moderator note:
    Changed your username to remove the AICP.

    Welcome back! Been what, about 3 years?
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  14. #14
    Geez, at least. I've been here (my new job) for 3 1/2 years now, so maybe longer than that.

    I lurk a bit, but the soup has never been cold enough for me to say anything.
    In my life, I have met men both good, and evil. I defend my self against them all...

  15. #15
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    Temporary Fix

    This sounds like a good reason to go through the Special Use Permit Application Process for the additional mobile proposed on her property. This would take care of the issue of having an additional primary residence. I think her best bet would be to get sterilized as well.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian RandomPlanner's avatar
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    Hey Tide,

    How'd this situation end up? Do you know??
    How do I know you are who you think you are?

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Queen B's avatar
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    One of the first things I learned in zoning is they are all unusual cases.
    It is all a matter of perspective!!!

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Linden Smith View post
    Actually, it is not be a zoning issue.

    Manufactured homes do not meet building codes. Once they come out of the factory, they cannot be structurally modified. So irregardless of your zoning provisions, living space cannot be added to a mobile home, nor a manufactured home.

    BTW, I'm surprised that I still have an account after all this time. I need to change the name though since I quit the damn AICP.
    Welcome back, Linden, but I am sorry to have to disagree with you. Manufactured homes can be modified, but still need to comply with the federal code.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

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