HARKER HEIGHTS — More than two months after developer Kip Lewis presented to the City Council with his rehabilitation plan for the Country Squire Mobile Home Park he purchased last fall, his bid for a precursory ordinance amendment remains on the table.
Lewis recently installed new infrastructure, spending an estimated $25,000 on pool upkeep, $30,000 on improvements for a quarter of the park’s roads and sewer lines, and $30,000 on a 2013 manufactured model home, he said. But vacant and damaged 40-year-old units remain.
Last week, City Manager Steve Carpenter and Lewis discussed the next steps of the decision process, and how Lewis should move forward in his effort to obtain a planned development permit that would allow him to replace older homes with newer ones.
Two ordinances stand in Lewis’ way — one that requires newly installed manufactured homes to sit at least 35 feet apart, and another that excludes mobile home parks from planned development consideration.
For both the city and developers, a planned development would allow greater flexibility than the existing zoning classification, Carpenter said. Both parties can negotiate standards pertaining to water, sewer, fences and unit age.
A planned development could also dictate tighter, site-specific spacing guidelines, allowing Lewis to replace all the old homes rather than replacing two units with just one as required by the current ordinance.
He will present his case to the Planning and Zoning Commission on July 31.
“If P and Z allows tighter spacing, it should create standards which improve and maintain mobile home parks in the future,” Carpenter said. “The people at Country Squire seem willing to do that.”
But Carpenter said he’s “conflicted” between granting and withholding a planned development permit.
“When you have a mobile home, they depreciate in value,” Carpenter said.
“In some ways, you’d rather replace it with something that had more value. The other side is it is a mobile home park, and it exists. (If unimproved), the units would just continue to deteriorate. They wouldn’t bring a lot of new ones.”
Lewis said he’s working with the city to reach a happy medium.