Couple seeks changes for mobile home

Terry Thomas discusses his plans to move a new mobile home with the planning commission.

A local couple was told Monday it will be months before changes could happen to allow them to put a mobile home on land they own in Huntsville.

Terry and Gail Thomas, who have four trailers on Maple Street, want to put a single-wide trailer on the property. They appealed their situation to the Huntsville Planning Commission on Monday.

Huntsville currently has an ordinance that says a home must be a minimum of 576 square feet, which the trailer would be. There still is in city planning standards that any structure must be at least 1,200 square feet.

Planning Director Jennifer Thomas said city attorney Howard “Rusty” Cain is writing an ordinance to eliminate the 1,200 requirement. He also plans to take out a length requirement for a trailer and a requirement that the structure have a 12-inch roof overhang.

The city changed to the 576 square foot requirement in May of this year.

The changes will need three readings before the city council, unless the issue can be declared an emergency, where the three could be done in one meeting.

Commission Chairman Stephen Ford said it is unlikely the situation will be declared an emergency.

Terry Thomas said he can’t meet a city requirement that a trailer must be placed on a concrete slab because all utilities are underground. The Thomases said they want to build to Housing and Urban Development (HUD) standards, which require trailers be placed on concrete blocks.

“It’s all buried, there’s nothing exposed to the outside, therefore I can’t really pour a pad,” Terry Thomas said. “If I could just put something ... that ground’s been there for 50 years, it’s done settling.”

Commissioner Charles Coger said, “On a regular house, you’re on dirt. It shouldn’t be any difference, they should be allowed the same thing.”

Terry Thomas said, “This is the only city that wants you to do that [pour pad]. I don’t know why.” He also said trailers don’t come with 10-inch overhangs on roofs.

Jennifer Thomas said, “That’s one thing that Rusty’s taking off. It’s already in motion to get taken off.”

Ford suggested tabling the issue, let Cain write a new ordinance for the changes, then let the council vote on the changes.

“I’ve been working on this for over a year now,” Terry Thomas said. Gail Thomas said she was planning to get the new trailer delivered this week. She asked for proof of the commission’s plans so she could show the trailer manufacturers.

Commissioner Travis Dotson said, “We want it to work for you, Terry. We want it to work.”

Thomas said, “I’m not asking for any favors. I’m just asking to go off of HUD guidelines. That’s all I’m asking. I’m not asking for nothing special. If it was a new mobile home that I was putting in, I would go off of your guidelines because I could go around it [pad], but since my stuff has been there for 50 years ... if it ain’t broke you don’t fix it.”

Ford asked the couple for patience as the issue works its way to the council.

“Everything will be a done deal, probably, if everything goes well, by the end of March,” he said.

In other business:

• The commission approved a paving project plan for Mitchusson Park. The city has received a grant of up to $50,000 from Beaver Watershed Alliance. The project will make over three existing parking areas – a total of nine spots – to prevent water runoff and erosion.

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