Archer Lodge residents continue to call on town leaders to soften an already amended ordinance that puts stricter requirements on mobile, or manufactured, homes.
Last November, the Town Council adopted an ordinance that said single-wide and double-wide mobile homes must have permanent brick foundations. The underpinning was not required when Archer Lodge residents answered to Johnston County ordinances, but that was before the community became a town.
Several residents who own or live in one of the more than 470 manufactured homes in Archer Lodge were quick to criticize the change, most citing the cost of a permanent foundation.
Responding to the complaints, the Archer Lodge Town Council amended the ordinance earlier this year, allowing faux brick or faux stone underpinning. But that amendment applied to only two of the three zoning districts where mobile homes are allowed – the manufactured home park district and single-family residential district 3.
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Brick foundations are still required in the agricultural district, where mobile homes are typically on larger tracts of land.
“No one wants masonry foundation,” town resident Tommy Pace told the town council in July. “It’s supposed to be what the people want, not what the advisers of the town say we should have.”
At the same July meeting, Archer Lodge resident Pete Barnes said if a resident wanted to set up a mobile home on a farm, the required brick foundation would create an additional cost.
“Just because I’m zoned one way and another street is zoned another, there’s no reason that he can have vinyl and another has to be masonry,” Barnes said.
Towns that require permanent foundations do so for a variety of reasons: Brick foundations look better, and they raise a home’s tax value and therefore its tax bill. In North Carolina, mobile homes that are not on a permanent foundation are taxed as personal property, not real property.
Archer Lodge Town Councilman Carlton Vinson said if residents want the town to remain a rural, residential community, its government must rely on property taxes to pay for the services that residents demand. He said while taxes from a standard home will continue to increase in value and help pay the cost of services, that’s often not the case with mobile homes.
“With no disrespect to anyone who owns a manufactured home, the day that home has the most value is the day you put it on the ground,” Vinson said on Sept. 9, when the Town Council reconsidered the rules for mobile homes.
At the Sept. 9 meeting, Vinson and Councilman Matt Mulhollem voted to keep the rules the same. But they lost out to Councilmen Mark Wilson, Clyde Castleberry and Mark Jackson. None of those three made a counter-motion to approve the proposed change in the agricultural district, but the council is expected to consider the matter again at a future meeting.
The town’s ordinance applies only to Class A and Class B manufactured homes that meet or exceed construction standards set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Class C mobile homes, those built before 1976 and that don’t meet HUD standards, are not permitted in any zoning district in Archer Lodge.
Bob Clark, the town’s zoning administrator, said existing homes without permanent foundations are grandfathered. “They can maintain it as it is,” he said. “If the structure is moved or there is a change of more than 65 percent of the value, you need to come into compliance.”
Traci Bunn of Archer Lodge said she and her husband moved into a mobile home on her husband’s land, with the intention of later building a house.
“There’s a lot of potential for people to start a family on land, and that might be their option to live in a single-wide or double-wide,” Bunn said during a August town council meeting. “And they might not be able to afford a permanent foundation.”
Others, like Archer Lodge landowner Brett Bruton, say that permanent foundations can help their property values.
“I think it is incumbent on us as residents to take a look at what we want this community to look like 10 years from now,” Bruton said. “Do we want permanent-type homes or mobile homes with regular old underpinning?”