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Mobile home issues need to be settled to benefit all

After meeting several times, a final Public Health and Safety Committee meeting was held Nov. 19, dealing with issues at the Southview mobile home court in Cornell. The matter was first brought up in August, by Cornell Police Chief Brian Hurt, who felt that regulations need to be put in place, in dealing with the court.

Comments were heard from Hurt, Elroy Leja (the owner of the park) and tenants. It was decided that the current ordinance on mobile homes needs to be revamped.

Issues were raised of a lack of skirting around the trailers, with animals going under trailers. Several people present at the latest meeting, agreed there is a fox, cat and raccoon problem in that area.

“If you put the skirting around the trailer, they have nowhere to stay in that area, they go somewhere else,” said Ashley Carothers, council member.

Leja said the skirting had not gone on, as he was still getting the one mobile home set up.

“There’s more to running a park than just pulling up a trailer,” said Leja.

Carothers said she would like to see the issue resolved, after dealing with the matter for several months.

“I understand there’s a process, I completely get it, but I also believe that winter is coming and the outside needs to be taken care of,” said Carothers.

Leja said he planned to get the skirting done that day, but that he got a phone call and had to leave the project he was working on, to address another problem elsewhere on his property.

See MOBILE HOME ISSUES NEED TO BE SETTLED/ Page 3 “That’s my park and I have to take care of it,” said Leja.

Public safety chair and council member Aimee Korger asked if Leja put the skirting on, if he could still work on the project as time allowed. Leja said most of the skirting would just have to come back off.

Hurt mentioned that the trailer was moved in three months ago, and still didn’t have skirting, to which Leja replied he didn’t understand why it mattered, when the trailer was unoccupied.

“It is currently a part of the (city) ordinance,” said Korger. “It would need to be resolved, because it has been that way for some time.”

Those on the committee agreed there should be a time limit for how long a trailer can go without skirting.

The next issue, was that the committee felt trailers should not be more than 15 years old. A few neighboring towns have their limit set at 10 years, while most are 15 years.

“The longevity of them being there for potentially decades, the longer we go out, we could end up with trailers that are there for 50, 60, 70 years, per se,” said Hurt.

Leja questioned why it’s different than houses that stand for 60 or 70 years, and are not torn down.

“They’re still a mobile home, they’re not the same construction type as an older stick-built home,” said Hurt.

Leja agreed some mobile homes are not built to good standards.

“We don’t bring in anything if it doesn’t have a pitch roof on it, anymore,” he said.

The committee made it clear, that only new homes brought in will be required to have the 15-year age limit, with the current homes grandfathered in.

“No one’s losing their homes,” said Korger.

Hurt also requested that a building inspector look over the trailers before a family can live in them.

“If you’re getting mobile homes that are 15 years old, they’re (inspectors) requiring that they conform to today’s standard, not standards from 15 years ago,” said Hurt.

Hurt says his goal with the park is to achieve good living conditions and aesthetics.

“I believe it should be inspected,” said Korger, to which the other committee members concurred.

Therefore, an addition to the ordinance would state that the city building inspector and fire inspector inspect the premises before occupancy, which would give Leja a chance to fix anything, with the inspection expense falling on him.

“It’s to his benefit,” said Hurt, stating that a quality, inspected home, would take less time to rent out or repair.

With the issues discussed, the committee agreed that the ordinance needs to be updated to reflect: a time limit on the skirting requirement, of 30 days to comply; the date of manufacture for any new trailers moved in would be no more than 15 years; and require an inspection from the city building inspector and fire inspector, prior to occupancy and possibly annually, to ensure a safe environment for residents, including those who have lived there for many years.

“The council has a responsibility to look out for the city and the residents of the city, that’s why we’re elected to be here,” said Korger. “And by re-writing the ordinance to look out for those residents, we’ve done what we’re supposed to do.”

“I agree, but I think it’s a matter for the whole council,” said committee and council member Terry Smith.

Smith said he would rather write the ordinance in-house, instead of having the city attorney do so, which would save taxpayers’ money.

Along with Floyd Hickethier, committee and council member, it was agreed to have Korger re-word the ordinance, with input from the other members, which will then be sent to the city attorney for review. Prior to that, however, the Cornell City Council will look at the committee’s recommendations at the Dec. 5 regular meeting.

Leja will also be provided a copy of the proposed revisions to the ordinance.

“I believe that’s the best course of action for everyone in this,” said Korger.