Polk denies Foster rezoning to rent out mobile home

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, November 29, 2017

COLUMBUS-Polk County Commissioners recently denied a request for a homeowner to rezone his property to Multiple Use (MU) zoning in order to rent out a mobile home for income.

Commissioners met Nov. 20 and held a public hearing prior to making the decision to deny the request by a 4-1 vote, with commissioner Shane Bradley being the sole vote against the denial.

During the public hearing, there were eight nearby residents (including an emailed statement) who spoke against the rezoning and three people who spoke in favor. Commissioners also reviewed a petition sent by nearby property owners who were all against the rezoning.

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Brad Foster requested the county rezone 11 acres on John Foster Road (off Skyuka Road) in the Columbus Township from RE-1 (residential estate) to MU.

Around 2009, Foster requested the same rezoning to add a mobile home to his property for a granddaughter to live in, so the county created an overlay district, which included Foster getting a conditional use permit based on a hardship for a family member. Once the hardship was over, or no family members in hardship lived in the mobile home, the conditional use permit is no longer valid. The hardship no longer exists because the family member moved out so Foster requested the rezoning, with family members saying the Fosters depend on the income from the mobile home to live.

George Patton spoke during the public hearing and said if the county approve the rezoning it would set a precedence for other RE-1 properties. MU allows many more uses than RE-1, including convenience stores and other businesses.

Glen LeFeber said the potential uses could be destructive to property values in the area as well as the aesthetics and asked commissioners to deny the request.

David Thompson said he was in favor of the overlay district created years ago, but a deal was made for a certain amount of time and now when the deal comes up to vacate the mobile home Foster has applied for MU for there and three other tracts.

“I don’t think that’s the right thing for my children and me,” said Thompson. “It’s nothing but spot zoning. Spot zoning to my understanding is illegal.”

Foster said he doesn’t like I-26 running beside his property, but it’s necessary. He said he was born 86 years ago right about where the trailer is sitting.

“I love that place as much as anybody in here,” Foster said. “I’ve raised my children there.”

Foster also said it cost him $350 a month to get his grounds mowed and it’s a big upkeep with he and his wife having problems with their health.

Cheryl Holtey said her parents do rely on the mobile home for their income. She said her family has been there 250 years.

“I do assure you our plan is not to have any other rentals on our property,” Holtey said.

Wes Holtey suggested the county put a moratorium on the zoning so once Foster no longer owns the property the county could change the zoning back to RE-1. He said the children don’t want to maintain the property, so zoning could later revert back to the original estate.

County attorney Jana Berg said because of some changes in legislature, if commissioners were faced with the overlay district approved for Foster years ago, her legal advice would be the county could not create the hardship district.

“You can have an overlay, but it can’t be for a particular person,” Berg said.

Commissioner Chair Tommy Melton said he would have to vote no because of all the uses MU zoning allows and he listed out every use, including accessory dwelling units, convenience stores, duplexes, hospitals, kennels, dry cleaning. Manufacturing, mobile or manufactured homes and parks, motels and hotels, restaurants, saw mills and theaters, as well as many other uses.

Commissioner Bradley, who voted against denying the rezoning, said he is against zoning and if someone pays taxes on their property they should be able to do what they want with it.