City Council is divided on ordinance
In Tuesday’s Monticello City Council meeting, six alderman were present to discuss the City’s mobile home ordinance.
Mayor David Anderson opened the unfinished business section of the meeting with asking the council members if they wanted to create a committee of four, one council member from each ward, or if they wanted to discuss the mobile home ordinance as an entire council.
After some debate, it was unanimously agreed upon to discuss the issue as a whole council.
The ordinance in question, No. 785, states in Section 12-11, Building and occupancy permits; “(1) No new manufactured homes brought into the corporate limits of the city, moved within the corporate limits of the city, or structure which ownership has changed shall be granted building or occupancy permits if the structure has been manufactured more than fifteen (15) years before the date of the application.”
Since the ordinance was amended, and the new rules went in to affect on June 30, 2014, 43 building permits concerning mobile homes have been issued by the city office. Of those 43 issued, 17 do not have the mobile home model year number listed, 19 have no mayor signature and two mobile homes were allowed to be moved in to the corporate limits of the city that were older than the 15 year statute in the ordinance.
Alderman Cedric Leonard was outspoken through the meeting, saying several times that the council should not limit people’s ability to live within their means.
After discussion with the members present (Beverly Hudson and Carolyn Brown were absent at the meeting), it was unanimously agreed upon that the ordinance did need to be fixed and the council decided they would meet to iron out the specifics at 6 p.m. Oct. 10.
Alderman Joe Meeks asked why some mobile homes were being moved before permits were granted.
City Clerk Andrea Chambers claimed that some citizens are unaware of the ordinance and unaware they were required to obtain an ordinance before the moving occurred.
Chambers also told the council that in the past, Entergy has ignored that ordinance and hooked up mobile home owners electricity without proper paper work from the city.
Alderwoman Paige Chase asked Chambers why were there no consequences to Entergy when they break the rules in this manner. In the past, Chambers responded, she has called Entergy and asked them to stop but it occasionally still occurs.
Chase then turned to City Attorney Whit Barton and asked if the city could implement some sort of punishment system or fine when Entergy hooked up electricity to a property without proper city paperwork.
“Yes,” Barton said. “And if they don’t pay the fine, they will end up in District Court.”
It was also discussed that the same rules should apply to mobile homes being moved on to a citizen’s private land or to a mobile home park. The current ordinance is being interpreted as mobile homes that are in mobile home park do not have to follow the same guidelines as mobile homes that are moved on to privately owned land.
“The ordinance says within the corporate limits of the City of Monticello,” Meeks said. “There is not exclusion in this ordinance about mobile home parks.”
Leonard spoke several times about eliminating the 15-year limitation and moving to a condition-based policy.
“The year of the trailer shouldn’t matter,” Leonard said. “We should be considering the condition of the trailer. If someone takes care of their stuff, it could be old and still in good condition. There are two-year-old trailers that are tore up. Mr. (Tony) Beard is the City Engineer, we need to have him inspect the condition of these trailers and make a call on that inspection.”
Chambers pointed out that under the current ordinance, Beard does not inspect the condition of the trailers.
Alderman Michael James suggested that a separate form be created to distinguish mobile home permits from building permits.
As of right now, the city issues the exact same form to people wanting to move a mobile home or wanting to add a structure to their property.
The council agreed that there should be separate forms.
After the council agreed to further discuss the issue as a whole on Oct. 10, Leonard made a motion to suspend the current ordinance until then.
Alderwoman Claudia Hartness disagreed, stating that if the council were to suspend the current ordinance, there would be no law in place regarding mobile homes.
The motion was put on the floor by Leonard and seconded by Alderman Al Peer. Meeks, James, Chase and Hartness voted no—so the current ordinance stays in place.
In other business, the council voted unanimously to approve $3,000 to finish the bathrooms at the Windy Hills access of Lake Monticello.
Monticello Economic Development Commission Executive Director Nita McDaniel addressed the council with her monthly report.
She told the council members that at the last MEDC board meeting, the members voted to approve her and the board president to enter into negotiation with a company regarding the use of the speculative building on Arkansas Highway 35 East.
“The company is applying to become a cultivation facility for medical marijuana,” McDaniel said. “Our offer is contingent on them obtaining the proper licensure from the state.”