Mobile Home Regulations

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 13, 2010

The appearance in April of this dilapidated mobile home, just outside the city limits of Courtland, set off discussion of tighter regulations in Panola County. The Panolian file photo

New rules tighten mobile homes in Panola County

By Billy Davis

Seven proposed amendments, each intended to tighten manufactured home regulations, were adopted Monday by the Panola County Land Development Commission.

The new rules, which restrict the age, transport and set-up of manufactured homes, must go before the Board of Supervisors for final approval.

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Four of five county supervisors were present to observe the public meeting, which was held in Sardis.

Among the more stringent rules, and most controversial, is that county permits will not be given to manufactured homes that are 20 years or older.

The new regulation would apply only to a manufactured home that requires a permit to move into unincorporated Panola County.  

A mobile home that is moved from one property to another, if the home remains under the same ownership, would not require a permit.

Discussion of the 20-year rule gobbled up much of the commission’s time, as it had in past meetings, and concluded with a single dissenting vote.

“Why can’t we allow exceptions?” asked Tim Holliday. If a trailer is beyond the age limit, a county inspector could review its condition and allow it to pass, he explained.  

“The age limit is the easiest and lease subjective approach,” replied Danny Walker, the commission chairman.

Walker noted that neighbor Tate County is operating with a 20-year limit and Panola County would be wise to follow that rule, too, he said.

Commissioners have said, in past months, that older mobile homes rejected in Tate County have been relocating to Panola County.

“I’d rather back up on the age rather than have inspections,” said Sledge Taylor. “I agree that’s subjective.”

Taylor also noted that the 20-year limit affects newly permitted mobile homes, not those “grandfathered” that are already on property in the county.

The land commission stuck with the 20-year limit, with Holiday voting against the motion.

Land commissioners also discussed at length the transport of manufactured homes, with the suggested amendment requiring licensed transporters and installers.

Some argued for rewording the amendment to allow the mobile home’s owner to transport it. Others suggested that safety concerns override the do-it-yourself allowance.

The commission agreed to a compromise, suggested by Danny Holland, that the manufactured home can be moved around on private property without a licensed mover. But it must be moved by a licensed professional if it is transported on a public road.

Other amendments require:

•    Water and sewer connections, and electrical connections must be performed in accordance with Panola County codes;

•    The manufactured home must be set on a pier foundation per county codes;

•    The manufactured home must have a landing, with minimum three-foot dimensions, at all entrances.

•    Manufactured homes shall not be used for storage purposes.

Land commissioners’ action followed five months of discussion that was jumpstarted when a dilapidated mobile home was moved to a lot in Courtland, creating uproar among neighbors.

The single-wide trailer home has since been moved, but its appearance – twisted, discolored siding, broken windows, and a rotten roof line – shed light on a lack of county regulations.  

The sight of the trailer also changed the opinion of Supervisor Gary Thompson, who had opposed new rules, just months earlier, when supervisors were adopting building codes.

The junky mobile home was located in Thompson’s district and neighbors called him to complain.  

“The new rules are something that was a long time coming,” said Thompson, who is board president. “That mobile home was something that made the picture that much clearer.”

“I’ve lived here 39 years and they came pulling in something like that,” said Floyd Sanders, whose brick home is located at 682 Well Street Extended.  

Told of the new rules, Sanders said he was grateful the county had responded to the problem.

“I think it’s a great step in a positive direction,” said Boyce Crowell, whose home and property are located across from the now-vacant lot.

“I commend the land commission for taking a stand,” he said.

Unincorporated Panola County has operated with zoning regulations for more than a decade, but rules that target manufactured homes were virtually non-existent before Monday evening’s final vote.

Before the new rules, mobile homes required a $25 permit, minimum setbacks, and a maximum of one residence per acre.

After the land commission meeting, Thompson was observed discussing the 20-year time limit with Walker. The time limit has become the most controversial of the new regulations, but Thompson said he does not expect supervisors to overrule the commission.

“That’s what the land commission is there for and they had a lot of discussions on the matter,” Thompson told The Panolian.

Before they discussed the amendments Monday, land commissioners held a public hearing to hear opinions from the public. No one spoke at the hearing.