• November 27, 2014

City codes delay mobile home park renovations

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Posted: Friday, January 18, 2013 4:30 am

It’s a Catch 22.

That was a phrase used by Kip Lewis on Tuesday as he described to the Harker Heights City Council the dilemma he faces in trying to bring Country Squire Mobile Home Park up to city code.

Lewis, owner of Lewis Investments of Round Rock, purchased the park last year and has big plans to make major improvements on the property. But certain codes that govern mobile home parks are keeping him from moving forward.

“My goal of coming in would be to replace the homes that are on the tax rolls at $1,000 per unit … remove those homes, break up lots, put in a new home, and begin the process of restoring the mobile home park,” Lewis said.

One of the most troublesome codes requires 35 feet between units. Since the distance between Country Squire units varies from 20 to 35 feet, the entire park will have to be redesigned in order for Lewis to replace any of the aging trailers with newer models.

Lewis and another mobile home park owner met with the city last year to discuss plans for remodeling their properties, said Patty Brunson, assistant city manager. As a result, the Heights planning and development department conducted a survey of mobile home parks, where they found more than 75 percent were not in compliance with city code requirements that are crucial to the health, safety and welfare of residents. The 35-foot spacing requirement is one of those codes.

Planning and Development Director Fred Morris presented

survey results to the council on Tuesday.

“Code calls for 35 feet clearance between the units, and almost three-fourths of the parks did not meet those requirements,” Morris said, adding that most parks also were in violation of codes that require two off-street parking spaces per unit and the restriction of structures like carports and storage buildings within 10 feet of the houses.

These codes are in place for safety reasons, as emergency vehicles need to have ample room to get into the parks to fight fires and attend to health issues, the city said.

The council discussed the feasibility of making Country Squire a planned development rather than a mobile home park, since planned developments do not have the 35-foot spacing requirement. Brunson said that idea would have to be reviewed by the city attorney.

Lewis said the city is “on the right track” and suggested that age limits be put on new mobile homes that are brought into parks like Country Squire.

“I’m assuming Harker Heights would like to see the mobile home parks look a lot nicer,” he said. “The homes from the late ’90s to now are built to much higher standards. You could take it a step further and say only shingle-roofed homes or no metal-sided homes.”

The council will continue to address mobile home park problems in future workshops.

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