What is the city council discussing now? It affects everyone in Huntsville. You should know about it. Please read on…
Mayor Brauninger started last Tuesday evening with this announcement: “This is great, when the citizens participate, it makes government better.”
The issue that had the most discussion on April 19th was about the new ordinances proposed by the Huntsville Planning Commission to Mobile Homes and Mobile Home Parks.mobile home
Several citizens came to the meeting to share their concerns about the proposed ordinances with the City Council. The ordinance proposes the following items on new mobile homes or mobile home parks that apply for permits inside the Huntsville City limits:
⦁ The mobile homes must not be older than 20 years.
⦁ Every new mobile home is required to have a shed installed on the property as well, for unsightly storage.
They are also recommending some upgrading to existing mobile homes, as follows:
⦁ Skirting around the bottom
⦁ Be sure that utilities are connected correctly, including water, sewer, gas and electrical.
⦁ For mobile home parks themselves, the planning commmission has recommended that a screened fence be placed around the entire park, as well as a screened fence around the dumpster, lighting at the entrance and roads that can be easily accessed by emergency vehicles.
The most costly of the upgrades that will affect the individuals in these mobile homes is upgrading the utilities. Upgrading and installing electrical utilities to an individual mobile home requires an electrical pole and a panel, either on the outside of the mobile home, or underground. This is work that must be done by a professional. In Huntsville, it could cost an individual homeowner $2500 to pay for this service.
The City Council members are concerned about causing undue hardship on these citizens. Randall Brooks, representing Tanglewood Mobile Home Park explained at the meeting that utilities are not something that mobile home parks are responsible for. Utilities are required to be installed and paid for by individual mobile homeowners. What about the cost of connecting the other utilities; gas, water and sewer? The city needs to research the cost to the individual homeowners. Many people in mobile homes cannot afford a $2500 expense. What will happen when the required time runs out and these people have not been able to set up their utilities? Will the City require them to move out of their home? What happens to the empty home? Is the mobile home park owner then required to move it? Will it be left abandoned, and become a useless eyesore? Will the city be required to incur the expense of demolishing the home and removing the debris? None of this was discussed at the meeting. There are consequences to the decisions that are being made. More research is required by the City of Huntsville.
Is there a Federal or State Grant that assists homeowners with utility compliance? Safety is a serious issue, but there is a reason why these people are choosing to live in a substandard way, and it is not the responsibility of the mobile home park to provide each individual mobile home with electricity. Passing this ordinance with the utility requirement and no financial assistance could displace people and force them out of their homes. Nobody in Huntsville wants that for its’ citizens.
Another issue that was discussed in depth was requiring skirting on existing mobile homes. There is already an ordinance in place that requires any newly placed mobile homes to have skirting. Requiring skirting will be an undue hardship on citizens as well. If you look online, the cost of just the skirting material itself to cover the entire underneath of a trailer is $600 plus the cost of bolts, tools or hiring someone to install it. It could cost someone $1,000 or more. This is not an expense that needs to be thrust upon the citizens of Huntsville; who have been residing in their mobile homes since before 2011 when the ordinance was passed to require any newly placed mobile homes to have skirting.
As Councilman Keith Olson suggested, the City needs to start somewhere and have standards. Having set standards on new mobile homes is not a hardship. When people purchase or plan to move their home to land in Huntsville, they will have to incur the cost of a shed for storage, but the City will inform them and they will expect to incur that cost. Most people who purchase a new home will want to have a shed anyhow.
Councilman Joe Rodriquez recommended that the city take no action on existing mobile home parks, as they exist today. He suggested that they enforce a new code on new parks and mobile homes. Except for one thing. He is concerned about requiring paved roads. The roads do not need to be paved, but they need to have easily accessible surfaces. money jar
The City of Huntsville Budget was also discussed at the meeting. The Budget for Fiscal Year 2014-15 was audited by Patillo, Brown & Hill. Chris Pruitt presented the audit. He reported that the General Fund is over $11.7 million and is “extremely healthy”. The City is currently $3 million “in the black”. That is good news. The proprietary funds have healthy equity as well. For the Pension plans, the city’s total liability is $76 million, toward pensions. The City of Huntsville, currently has $15.5 million of pensions unfunded.
The mobile home ordinance will have a second reading at the next City Council meeting on May 3rd at 6pm. They may have more discussion and they may decide to vote on whether to accept the ordinance. Huntsville citizens are able to come to the meeting and complete a form requesting to speak about an item.
The mayor and city council members can be contacted by phone at 936-291-5403. They can be contacted individually at the following e-mail addresses.
Mayor Andy Brauninger e-mail: abrauninger@huntsvilletx.gov
Council Members
Joe Emmett-Ward 1 e-mail: jemmett@huntsvilletx.gov
Tish Humphrey-Ward 2 e-mail: thumphrey@huntsvilletx.gov
Ronald Allen-Ward 3 e-mail: citysecretary@huntsvilletx.gov
Joe Rodriquez-Ward 4 e-mail: jrodriquez@huntsvilletx.gov
Lydia Montgomery e-mail: lmontgomery@huntsvilletx.gov
Don H. Johnson e-mail: dhjohnson@huntsvilletx.gov
Keith D. Olson e-mail: kolson@huntsvilletx.gov