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Council splits over zoning request

May 3, 2012

The Borger City Council voted to approve the placement of a manufactured home on commercial property at its regular meeting Tuesday. However, the approval didn’t come without a split decision.
The council approved the request for a specific use permit to place a manufactured home in the rear of 1415 West Wilson, a request made by Arvind Patel. The home will be placed near the Hampton Inn.
Robert Vinyard and Leon DeWeese voted to approve the request, with Charles Gillingham and Bubba Dickson voting against the request. Mayor Jeff Brain cast a vote to break the tie and approve the request.
Kenneth Petr, director of planning and zoning, said a public hearing on the matter was held before the Planning and Zoning Commission back in late March. The vote was 4-1 by the commission in favor of the permit.
Local citizen Cecil Hopkins, a member of the Church of God, which has built its new church in that area, was the first to speak, voicing his opposition to the request. He said he opposed a trailer house being placed in that area, and believed if the request was approved, more trailer houses would turn up in the area in the future.
Mayor Brain said the structure placed on the lot cannot be a trailer house, and it must be a manufactured home.
“The way the zoning laws are, Mr. Patel could build a regular home out there, and we would not have any say on it other than to issue a building permit,” he said.
Borger City Manager Eddie Edwards said that a trailer house is one that does not have a permanent foundation and is on a chassis, built prior to 1976. Homes built after 1976 are classified as modular or manufactured homes.
Manufactured homes with permanent foundations can be placed on commercial lots, but not ones that are easily movable. Edwards said the ordinance is specific about what types of homes can built on such lots.
Patel said the home he plans to place on the lot is a brand-new manufactured home that costs around $110,000. He said it will be quicker to get such a structure out there rather than building from the ground up, and the house is of better quality than many of the structures in town.
“We need some quickly-built housing in this town, and this will be a big help to me,” he said. “It will be on a permanent foundation, and it’s not a trailer house like the gentleman [Hopkins] said. He is misinformed.”
The house is 1,700 square feet, and Patel said it will look much better than some of the surrounding housing. He did say a separate garage will be need to be built. The house will come in several pieces and will need to be assembled.
Stanley Aylor, who is also with the Church of God, voiced his opposition to the request as well. When the church sold property to Patel, he said Patel did not mention anything about putting a house out there. He said he thought the property out there was intended to be commercial property.
“We do understand the rule about building a house. It’s different if it’s going to be commercial property in a residential area. We understand that,” he said. “But they call this a manufactured home, but basically it’s moved in pieces and put together. It’s still a double-wide. It’s a cheaper home and a cheaper build.”
Aylor said the church is still trying to sell land in that area, and feels the placing of the manufactured home would cause the land to lose some of its value. He said the church would rather see a home built from the ground up, rather than a manufactured home. He said he felt it would be a risk if the home does not hold up.
He said he has spoken with Dennis Jack, CEO of Golden Plains Community Hospital, and he said he was told by him he didn’t think the structure would be of good quality. He said he has heard the majority of surrounding landowners have been opposed to it.
Petr said three surveys came back opposing the placement of the home and one in support of it from Jack initially. However, he has since changed his mind about the placement of the home.
Robert Vinyard said the structure which now houses the doctor’s office building is a manufactured structure, and he never once felt offended by it, having lived in that area of Borger for over 40 years.
He said the hospital chose to bring in this building at the time because it needed structures to be built quickly, and it didn’t appear to depreciate the value of the land. He said he didn’t think this would happen with the land in question.
“The land out there, it could never become a trailer park unless we allowed it to be, and we don’t want that either,” Vinyard said. “We do feel like if the man wants to live close to his work, I really don’t have a problem with that. I think we’ve got some precedence there with the doctor’s office, and that has been there for quite a number of years. I don’t think that’s been an issue in terms of downgrading anyone’s property or making it look worse. I’m not sure why there’s such opposition to it.”
Gillingham said that based on the survey and so many people being against it, he felt he had to respect their wishes as property owners.
Mayor Brain said the survey is required on type of specific use permit request, and that people within 200 feet of properties in question be notified of what is taking place. He said many of the requests were simply not returned. He said he wanted to know why people were so concerned about the placement of the home.
Church of God Pastor Bill Ratchford said the main concern of himself and his members was that the placement of the home would upset the consistency of the area, with everything out there being mainly commercial property. He said the church will not be building a parsonage out there in order to maintain that consistency.
Edwards said the way zoning laws are set up are to keep commercial and retail development from going into residential areas, but not necessarily to keep residential development from coming into commercial areas. He said it is a scenario that rarely happens.
Ratchford said the church wants to remain friendly with Mr. Patel, but just felt like the placement of the home in the area would be out of place.
Dickson said he agreed with the concerns of those at the meeting, feeling like it would upset the consistency of the area as well.
Patel said placing a home in that area is allowed by state and city laws. He said other than just the opposition, he should be allowed to place his home there. Edwards said the city does allow residential property to be placed in commercial zoning areas with a specific use permit.
After the split vote was cast, Mayor Brain cast his vote in favor of the request. He said he understood the comments of the public. He said the sense he got from the public was that building a home out there would upset the consistency of the area.
However, he said there is nothing the city can do to stop Patel from building a home from the ground up, and if the request was denied, he would be able to obtain a building permit fairly quickly and put a home out there regardless.
“Because there will be a home there either way, then I will have to vote for it,” Mayor Brain said.

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