Supervisors move to limit older homes

Published 4:30 pm Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Age of manufactured housing allowed will change Oct. 1

By Jeremy Weldon

Owners of manufactured housing more than 20 years old will not be allowed to locate the homes Panola County effective Oct. 1. The new ordinance is expected to cause confusion in  some cases, and protests in others.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to put the age limit on manufactured housing at Monday’s regular meeting. District 1 Supervisor James Birge voted against the measure. After the meeting he said a 20-year age limit was too strict, and will affect many property owners wanting to put a pre-owned manufactured home on their land.

“You have a lot of these mobile homes that are 25 years old that look good and have been kept up,” Birge said. “I think the board moved too fast and didn’t think about all the people this could hurt.”

Currently in the county, any home built in June, 1986 or later is allowed to be permitted and set up in Panola. When the Land Development Commission was established and the land use ordinances for the county adopted in 1999 the board used the 1986 standard that was generally accepted by permitting boards nationwide.

It was after June, 1986, that such structures – long called “trailers” and then  “mobile homes” – became known as manufactured homes because national building standards were adopted by that industry, including more substantial framing lumber and the banning of aluminum wiring responsible for many fires.

Panola County’s land use ordinances required housing to be on a minimum lot size of one acre (unless in a platted and recorded subdivision that has smaller lots) with city or association water service provided, or on a minimum of 1.5 acres if the house will be serviced by a private well.

These guidelines are part of the State Department of Health’s efforts to ensure minimum separation of water and sewer systems at a house site.

The Land Development Commission has been considering asking the supervisors to approve an ordinance setting an age limit, but had not decided on a cutoff year. Some of the commissioners were in favor of a 15-year limit, although Chad Meek, the county’s building official and permitting clerk, had advised members an age limit that short would not be received well by the public.

Officials have been working behind closed doors for several months discussing ways to help improve the overall appearance of the county in hopes of improving land values and attracting more residents.

Regionally, several counties and cities have made similar decisions in recent years, with some even limiting the parts of a county where manufactured homes may be located. No one suggested that idea for Panola, but several offices and boards have had input on general clean-up and permitting efforts.

Meek said his office routinely has permit requests from people wanting to move manufactured homes to sites throughout the county, and many of them are older than 20 years. “It’s like anything else, it depends on how well a home has been maintained to determine what kind of condition it’s in,” he said.

Following the supervisors’ decision, Meek said he called the local dealers of manufactured homes to inform them of them coming change because that business will also be affected because customers often trade older homes when purchasing a newer one.

“Any unit manufactured before the 20 year age limit won’t be allowed to be on Panola County roads,” Meek said. “An existing manufactured home is just fine at any age, but after the new ordinance takes effect we will be going by the date of manufacture and our office wiil want to see proof of that date when you come in for a permit.”