City clarifies language about mobile homes

Published 9:50 pm Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Selma City Council has clarified language in city ordinances about mobile homes within the city limits.

Council president Corey Bowie said the city council adopted a moratorium on mobile homes around 1993 and the language used needed to be updated.

For instance, the idea of “tiny houses” — small homes on trailers — didn’t exist 20 years ago.

“[The previous ordinance] said no mobile homes within the city limits,” Bowie said. “What the council did with this ordinance here is we asked City Attorney [Jimmy] Nunn to spell out specifically what is considered a mobile home. He really just defined what a mobile home is.”

According to the updated ordinance, it’s unlawful to install or maintain any portable or mobile building as a residential dwelling.

The ordinance defines a mobile building as “a building, transportable in one or more sections, which is built on a permanent chassis and/or a wood or steel frame and is designed to be transported or hauled to its location to be installed, placed or set with or without a permanent foundation.”

The ordinance does allow mobile buildings to be used as storage units on lots that already have permanent residential or commercial structures on them.

Any violation of the ordinance is considered a misdemeanor and could result in imprisonment of up to six months and a fine of up to $500. Each day of a violation is considered a separate offense.

In previous months, Jason Parks of JP Construction has approached the council about installing tiny houses on his property and thought he had received permission from the city.

Mayor Darrio Melton said he’s only heard Parks say he was given verbal permission and the city has nothing in writing to show the tiny houses were approved.

Bowie said to his knowledge the city has never granted exceptions to the ordinance for residential properties.

Any existing mobile home parks were grandfathered in after the moratorium in the 1990s, according to Bowie.

He said the council has allowed some businesses to move their offices into mobile buildings, but that results in tax revenue for the city.

Bowie said the issue boils down to protecting people’s property values.

“You have to look at the property values of the homes that may be affected by where you place the trailer,” Bowie said.

Melton agreed the city should be promoting home ownership.

“We are actually trying to promote the construction of residential properties in our city. For those that would try to come in and lower the value of the property in our city, we definitely will not allow that to happen,” Melton said.