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Sun, Dec. 08

New rule restricts trade in older manufactured homes

Mohave County wants to place restrictions on which manufactured homes can be sold and moved – and which ones can’t. (JC AMBERLYN/Miner)

Mohave County wants to place restrictions on which manufactured homes can be sold and moved – and which ones can’t. (JC AMBERLYN/Miner)

KINGMAN - Manufactured homes older than seven years won't be allowed to be sold and moved from one property to another under a new Mohave County zoning ordinance that takes effect Dec. 2.

The current age limitation is for homes manufactured June 15, 1976, or later and the unit must display a HUD label.

Christine Ballard, manager of Mohave County's Planning and Zoning Division, said she understands how the change concerns sellers and installers of manufactured homes.

Development Services is holding a public meeting at 2 p.m. Monday to listen to those concerns and discuss alternatives. The meeting is at the Public Works Building Turquoise Room, 3717 Sunshine Drive.

Ballard said a subcommittee of the Planning and Zoning Commission has been reviewing the ordinance since July 2013.

The purpose of the ordinance is to ensure "healthy, safe and beneficial development," she said.

The change in age limitation was made to provide an adequate and safe housing supply that complements the county's areas and is more consistent with surrounding cities, and to avoid property becoming a location to discard older units, Ballard said.

James Coleman purchased a triple-wide mobile home that had been set down in a wash on property in Meadview. He moved the home to Golden Valley six months ago, but wouldn't be able to do that now.

Bullhead City enacted a similar ordinance about five years ago in an effort to clean up a blighted area south of town, but most of the property owners were California investors who simply left the dilapidated homes as they were, Coleman said.

"I don't think it's going to accomplish anything and it's going to do a lot of harm," he said. "If a guy can't afford to sell his house and buy something better, he's going to leave it there, so you haven't accomplished anything."

Coleman said he knows of a nice home, a HUD foreclosure, in Golden Valley and the owner can't sell it because the road to get there has a 3-foot ditch. Nobody's going to buy it and it can't be moved.

The county ordinance on manufactured homes requires that the dwelling unit be built to standards established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and have an affixed HUD label certifying that the home was manufactured in compliance with federal construction and safety standards.

All units must be manufactured no more than seven years before the permit is requested. A building permit is required for all manufactured home installations.

Building permit applications for manufactured homes must include the insignia number issued by the state of Arizona and license number of the manufactured home installer.

The previous ordinance stipulated that mobile homes manufactured prior to June 15, 1976, could not to be placed on land in Mohave County.

"There's no good reason to have this ordinance in the first place," said Mike Luxton, salesman at Mohave Homes in Golden Valley. "It eliminates a large portion of the tax base because any home over seven years old is basically worthless. If you want to trade it in, you'll get nothing because it can't be reset. It'd have to be demolished and taken to the dump."

The new ordinance is going to restrict the homes that Mohave Homes can take as trade-ins and resell, even though some of the older homes are in great condition, Luxton said.

"There are thousands of people here that need housing and can only afford a mobile home," he said. "Fifty percent of them that live in a manufactured home could upgrade their home by buying a home that's only seven or eight years old. Now that's going to be impossible."

Mohave Homes has a beautiful triple-wide, 2,000-square-foot home that's eight years old for sale for $89,000, delivered and set up, but won't be able to sell it, Luxton said.

"I could sell it to someone who wanted to move out of the county. That's not going to happen," he said.

Another aspect of the new ordinance is its effect on the economy, Luxton noted. Kingman once had about eight mobile home dealers with a minimum of four employees, he said. If they each averaged $25,000 in annual income, that's $800,000 lost from Kingman's economy.

"It's going to affect everyone's livelihood - retailers, transporters, installers, senior citizens," said Billie Ragan, co-owner of Sunwest Enterprises mobile home set-up in Kingman. "The majority of homes we set in the last two-plus years are older than seven years. That's how we survived, because we have no retailers. With the economy the way it is, a lot of people can't afford a new home, so they're buying older homes."

The county doesn't realize how much revenue is going to be lost in property taxes and building permit fees, she said.

"If you own a home that's over seven years old, why should you pay taxes? Because the county is basically saying your home is worthless," Ragan said. "The county should think about it. No permits, no income for the county, no employee raises."

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