By Alyssa Schnugg
Manufactured homes are now allowed in most zoning districts in Lafayette County with the approval of the Board of Supervisors.
On Thursday during a public hearing at the Chancery Building, the supervisors voted unanimously to allow manufactured homes in the R1, R2 [residential] and C2 [commercial] zoning district, on lots that are at least a half acre in size, if a conditional-use permit is approved on a case-by-case basis.
Those requesting to place or build a manufactured home must meet several requirements and be approved by the Board of Supervisors before being granted a permit to place the home. The supervisors will look at whether there are other manufactured homes in the area; if the addition fits the neighborhood; if there is a Mississippi State Health Department approved waste disposal system and other criteria.
Building Officials Joel Hollowell told the Board that during the zoning process last year, manufactured homes were only allowed to be placed in the Residential Estate zoning classification; however, they are only allowed to be for temporary use.
Supervisor David Rikard said he there was a woman in his district who wanted to place a manufactured home next to her mother’s house after her mother became ill. She was told she could place one temporarily.
“After her mother died, she’d have to move it,” Rikard said. “How do you tell someone that? … She opted not to place it because of the cost of moving it in, setting it up and then having to remove it.”
Commercially-zoned areas currently have no options for residential structures of any kind.
That has caused some “unintended consequences” for some Lafayette County residents, according to Hollowell.
An area zoned C2 near Highway 30 near Littlejohn’s still have several homes on lots in that area. The area was zoned Commercial since additional commercial businesses are expected at the intersection in the future and while it increases the property values for residents living in homes there, some families have no intentions of selling and want to continue to live on their property and have other family members join them.
Those already living in a home in the areas zoned commercial last year are grandfathered in; however, no new houses can be built nor manufactured home placed on the property.
“Right now, we could approve a tire shop there but we couldn’t allow someone to put a home on their family plot,” said Supervisor and Board President Jeff Busby. “We keep saying we need more affordable housing but I have to tell someone ‘no’ and make them buy another plot somewhere for $50,000 and then build a house for $150,000.”
Hollowell said the two main areas where there could be conflicts are the Highway 30 area and off Highway 6 West, west of Wellsgate near West Spring Hill where several mobile and manufactured homes exist on family plots in R1 and R2 zoned areas.
Supervisor Kevin Frye said he wasn’t against the idea or intent of the proposed change but wanted more input from the Lafayette County Planning Commission, who did not review the proposed change. Hollowell said he felt the change needed to be done sooner than later and presenting before the commission would put the vote off until the summer since the commission meets once a month on the last Monday of the month.
“I just feel it’s a broad fix for a narrow problem,” Frye said.
Hollowell said allowing manufactured homes in the district by conditional use only would allow the supervisors more control on where they are located rather than attempting to rezone areas which can be a more timely and complicated process.
The proposed change was originally to allow manufactured homes by conditional use in all zoning districts including the R3, C1 and C3 zoning districts. After a lengthy discussion, the supervisors agreed to remove the R3, C1 and C3 districts from the vote and allow the Planning Commission to review those districts.
Busby said while the county worked on the new zoning ordinance in great detail, it’s the first time the county had ever implemented zoning.
“Mistakes were made and we’re going to have to fix them going forward and change things but that’s part of the process,” he said.