Elizabethton Planning Commission denies mobile home park

John Thompson • Feb 26, 2014 at 10:25 AM

ELIZABETHTON — Conflicts between developers and neighbors in two separate areas highlighted Tuesday’s meeting of the Carter County Planning Commission.

In one highly contentious dispute, the planners voted to deny a mobile home park for property at the end of Marlow Lane in Hampton. The planners also voted to defer a decision on a rezoning request to allow a proposed apartment building on Broad Street Extension. The motion to defer was made so the planners could see a copy of the project’s site plan.

The proposed mobile home park was being developed by Barbara Moffitt. It was located on a site where Street’s Mobile Home Park had once existed. Many of the neighbors are related to each other and said they had experienced numerous problems when Street’s Mobile Home Park existed and their property values are just beginning to recover. Several Marlow family members addressed the commission to ask that a new trailer park not be permitted.

After extensive discussion, Commissioner Thomas “Yogi” Bowers said the question was “does it meet the requirements of a mobile home park?” Bowers answered his question by saying he did not think it did.

The commission voted to deny the mobile home application, with Ralph Watson and Jamie Hughes casting dissenting votes.

Later in the meeting, the Marlow family reopened the controversy by questioning the right of Moffitt to have all the trailers already on the property.

Moffitt said she had already invested $85,000 in property. She said she needed to get a return on her investment because of illnesses in her family. She said two mobile homes were already on the property, plus another “stick built” residence. That residence was made up of two mobile homes that had been joined together and placed under a single roof and enclosed by siding. The Marlows contend the “stick built” structure is really two additional mobile homes. That would make four mobile homes already on the property, which violates the county’s mobile home park regulation.

County Planning Director Chris Schuettler said the “stick built” classification came from a state definition that includes double-wide mobile homes. The property is zoned A-1B, which allows one “stick built” residence and two mobile homes without being classified as a mobile home park. Vic Harrison, who accompanied Moffitt, said the single trailers already have electricity and will have water from a newly dug well in a couple of weeks.

The controversy over the proposed apartment building on Broad Street Extension also has long roots. The developer is Richard Hale, who had previously been denied his proposal to establish a storage space rental business on the property.

Several neighbors attended the meeting and spoke in opposition to the proposed rezoning from low-density residential (R-1) to medium-density residential (R-2) in order to build the five-unit apartment building on an acre of property. “This land has a definite drainage problem and surrounding property owners are concerned,” said Betty Bowers. “We prefer the property remain R-1.

Hale said he has worked with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to correct the drainage problems on the property. He said he plans to construct a 4,500-square-foot apartment building. He said the zoning now in place would allow him to build a 4,500-square-foot house and that would have the same drainage impact as a 4,500-square-foot apartment building.

After having a decision on the project delayed for another month, Hale said after the meeting he was frustrated because he has now spent 18 months trying to get a development approved for the site. He said he has already made improvements to the neighborhood by improving drainage and removing a condemned termite infested house on the property. He said the continuing delays are causing him to consider getting a zoning attorney to help him get a project approved.

During a public comment session, the board heard a complaint about a drainage ditch on Price Road that is not carrying water. Standing water is damaging a home at 279 Price Road. The board determined a large maple tree in the county right of way could be the cause of the problem.

Citizen Billie Dabbondanza also spoke during the public session to ask if any progress has been made on getting Planning Commission employees certified to conduct building code inspections. Schuettler said the staff would soon be getting tested. Dabbondanza said it has been three years since the county went under the International Building Codes and wondered why it took so long. Schuettler said he has had several employees come and leave during the period.

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