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No single-wide, no sale for city property owner

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By Cindy Simpson

A Rockwood property owner hit a wall last week in her plans sell to a family who wants to put a single-wide mobile home on the lot.
April Shepard made a strong case for her particular property, an old lot that is now nonconforming at 50 by 190 feet.
It would be difficult to fit anything bigger on the lot, she said, and that makes it difficult to sell.
“I’m stuck with this piece of property in the city I don’t even want if nobody can put a trailer,” said Shepard.
Similar mobile homes are nearby, and the property owner believed adding one on her land would not damage property values. That’s one concern Rockwood Planning Commission Chairman Arvel McNelly said property owners have with trailers in their neighborhoods.
Rockwood officials said they have for years denied  requests to put single-wide mobile homes in areas zoned Residential 1.
McNelly insists a city ordinance approved more than 15 years ago prohibits single-wide mobile homes, and both planning commission and Rockwood City Council have acted accordingly.
“We have turned a lot of people down,” McNelly said.
Planner Midge Jessiman first said that without an ordinance prohibiting it, a permit would have to be issued if the single-wide could fit without variance changes that had been requested.
After the meeting, she said it would be hard to say if the permit would have to be issued because first reading of a new ordinance had occurred at that point.
“Do you violate the intent? I don’t know,” Jessiman said.
McNelly, however, insisted the ordinance exists, and he worried about the possibility of lawsuits from past denials if the allowance was made for this property owner.
With the existence of that ordinance undetermined, Rockwood City Council made sure it was official  recently by approving an ordinance prohibiting single-wide mobile homes in the area.
At the new ordinance’s second reading, Mayor James Watts said McNelly had brought him a copy of the old ordinance.
Vice Mayor Peggy Evans voted for the ordinance in second reading, but she said she was against it because of mobile homes in existing R1 zones.
One man at the Rockwood Board of Zoning and Appeals said such an ordinance prohibits less-fortunate people from finding a home in the city.
He argued that homes are not being constructed, and that the city would be looking at empty lots because nobody will build on a 50-foot lot.
One planning commission member argued, however, that duplexes have been built on such lots.
Shepard’s perspective buyers grew angry at the board of zoning appeals for not solving their distress. A woman left cursing, but she later returned to ask what her options were, saying she needed this resolved for her children to have a home.
Another woman claimed a Clymersville property owner was allowed to put in a mobile home because he was a city employee.
Watts, however, said that area is zoned R3, which makes such allowances.