City looks to crack down on trailer court ordinance
Headway was finally made, after months of back-andforth discussions about Cornell’s ordinance on trailer courts. The courts causing the discussion, are the Southview Court on South Street and the (north) Eighth Street Court, both owned by Elroy Leja.
Aimee Korger, chair of the Public Health and Safety Committee, went over the city’s current ordinance, as well as other neighboring city’s ordinances, at a meeting Feb. 27. It had previously been agreed by the committee and Cornell Police Chief Brian Hurt, that inspections need to be completed on mobile homes, to ensure they are safe for occupancy.
“After speaking with the fire chief, inspections…would have to be done by someone throughout the city,” said Korger. “It can’t be the fire department. There’s a liability there when it’s the fire department; they are commercially trained, not residentially trained.”
Korger says the fire department recommended that the city have the existing city building inspector complete those duties, which would be charged to the applicant of the inspection each time a mobile home was inspected. Such wording could be added into the current ordinance, and Korger said they would need to figure out what inspection requirements would look like and what the scope of inspections would entail.
“I think the goal should be to make sure the premise is safe for the tenant,” she said.
In going through the existing ordinance, Korger also discovered that the trailer courts must have an office for the person in charge at each trailer park, with a copy of the trailer park licensing and a copy of the city’s ordinance dealing with trailer courts, as well as the park’s register.
“I think he’s also supposed to provide the city with names…we have no clue who’s in what trailers,” said Hurt.
Korger said that is correct, as a register must be presented to the city, with a list of names and addresses of occupants in each court, the number of school-aged children, date of entrance and departure of mobile homes on the lots, and the make, model, year and serial number of each mobile home.
“If we have a major storm come through or something… we have no clue who’s there and how to look for people,” said Hurt.
“That’s a safety hazard right there,” said Korger.
Floyd Hickethier, committee member, asked if the ordinance says anything about the mobile homes as single-family residences. Korger said there is nothing currently on the books, but mentioned that is something that could be added.
“I would strongly suggest we do that,” said Hurt.
Hurt also pointed out that he’s noticed garbage bags piling up on porches, to which Korger said there is an extra garbage pick-up in the spring.
“We should not be waiting for free pick-up, so people get a freebie,” said Hurt. “Again, it’s not being enforced by the management/owner of the mobile home court.”
Committee member Terry Smith says garbage lying around should fall under public nuisance ordinances. Hurt
See TRAILER COURT/ Page 3 says he would like to see dumpsters on-site that get emptied weekly. The committee agreed to include a point that disposal be provided by the owner of the court.
“I’m just trying to come up with ideas that make this better for everyone,” said Hurt.
Another issue, is skirting that still has not been put on a vacant trailer, after months of sitting on the lot. Korger says to install the skirting would help prevent rodents from nesting under trailers.
Those present agreed the ordinance should read that the owner/operator has 72 hours to set the trailer on the lot (including water and power hook-ups, per specifications) and to get the unit properly skirted.
“I don’t think 72 is unreasonable,” said Hurt. “You start factoring in weather and things of that nature…” Members also agreed that any trailers brought in, in the future, should be no more than 12 years old. Those who currently live in models older than that, would be grandfathered in until the current occupant vacates the premise, at which time, the trailer will then be subject to inspection, prior to re-rental or sale.
Any trailer that is more than 30 years old, would automatically be required to be removed from the court, at the owner/operater’s expense.
“We should be bringing stuff in that is habitable immediately,” said Hurt, adding that he doesn’t want anyone to lose their home. “That’s not what the goal is. The goal is, we should have a decent looking mobile home court, instead of turning it into a slum area.”
The ordinance would also state that the city can withhold the trailer court’s permit renewal until the current ordinance is complied with.
“I think we got to make this as strict as we can,” said Hickethier, who is concerned over lack of safety in the courts. “Pretty soon, somebody’s going to die down there.”
The recommendations from the meeting will be brought to the regular Cornell City Council meeting and, if agreed on, the changes/additions will be sent to the city’s attorney.
Korger says the city is not trying to pick on anyone, but that mobile homes are different than rentals and held to different standards.
“Every single city has its own section for mobile homes,” she said. “They are different from anything else.”
“Really, all this is for the safety of the tenants,” said Hickethier.