Polk set to change ‘error’ prohibiting mobile homes in areas above 1,650 ft.

Published 5:38 pm Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Public hearing March 5 in Sunny View
Polk County commissioners are in the process of fixing an error in the mountainside and ridgeline protection ordinance (MRPO) that currently prohibits mobile homes at elevations above 1,650 feet.
Other amendments commissioners are considering in the MRPO are to change the definition of excavation to exclude the manual removal of earth and to exempt from the land-disturbance regulations minor land-disturbing activities of 500 square feet or less for work such as residence additions, porches, decks or small accessory structures.
Commissioners met Monday, Feb. 20 and set a public hearing for March 5 at 7 p.m. on the proposed ordinance amendments. The March 5 meeting will be held at Sunny View Elementary School.
Commissioner Renée McDermott said the omission of mobile homes from the ordinance was an error.
“I think it’s important to realize that the omission (of mobile homes) from being a part of the definition was an error,” said McDermott. “It was not intended. It was because of not realizing which definition we were using for single family dwelling.”
Polk County Planner Cathy Ruth said a couple of changes to the mountain and ridgeline ordinances were requested by commissioner Ray Gasperson at the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) committee discussions. Over the last few months, Ruth said, a few people have applied for mobile homes and the planning department has had to deny those permits.
Commissioners will be considering amendments to two mountain and ridgeline ordinances: one for the zoned areas of the county and one for the unzoned areas of the county. The MRPO is in place for the entire county for elevations above 1,650 feet, which includes all of Saluda Township and other mountainous areas throughout the county, mostly the western region of the county.
The definition for single-family dwelling proposed for both MRPOs to allow mobile homes says, “a building or portion thereof providing complete living facilities for a family. Single-family dwellings may include manufactured homes, dwellings constructed on-site or modular dwellings, but the term does not include motels, hotels, tourist homes, park models or recreational vehicles. A single-family dwelling may also consist of another dwelling unit, such as an accessory apartment or garage apartment provided the floor area of the accessory unit does not exceed 40 percent of the floor area of the single-family dwelling or 750 square feet, whichever is greater, and further provided the accessory unit’s exterior design and entry locations preserve the appearance of the single-family dwelling.”
Commissioner Tom Pack questioned the 500-square-foot exemption from land-disturbance regulations. He said he believes the exemption could be for a larger area, such as 750 square feet.
“Five hundred (square feet) is a small footprint,” Pack said. “It sounds like there was no science behind the 500 square feet.”
Commissioners agreed to have the building inspector look at the proposed 500-square-foot exemption to possibly increase the footprint prior to approval. County attorney Mike Egan said commissioners could make a motion to approve that type of change prior to approval of the amendments.