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Montopolis mobile home park gets initial go-ahead to expand

Tuesday, November 23, 2010 by Kimberly Reeves

Council approved a zoning change to expand a mobile home park in Montopolis on first reading last week after the owner agreed to have the property revert to single-family development if the parcel were ever sold.


Staff supported the owner-requested rezoning of the 1.6-acre parcel to MH-NP, or mobile home-neighborhood plan, but the case came to Council without a Planning Commission recommendation due to a 4-3 vote. A total of five commissioners at Planning Commission must favor a zoning change in order to forward a recommendation. Two were absent the night of the case.


Members of the Montopolis neighborhood contact team, including Stefan Wray, had concerns the zoning change would take the property further away from its proposed single-family use in the neighborhood plan’s future land use map. The 1.6-acre parcel is adjacent to an existing 24-acre mobile home park.


“The owner bought it, knowing full well what the zoning was and what the neighborhood plan was, and that needs to be respected,” Wray said. “The contact team’s vote needs to be respected.”


The Montopolis neighborhood plan was passed in 2001, Wray said. Two years earlier, a University of Texas study had indicated that a disproportionate number of manufactured homes were located in Montopolis, roughly 13-to-1, and recommended that mobile home parks along Frontier Valley should be amortized and returned to single-family use in the future.


Pat Johnson, who lives in the existing mobile home park, argued he did live in a home, albeit one that was manufactured. He financed it, paid it off, and like his neighbors, got a property tax bill from the county every year.


Johnson showed a video of Frontier Valley, noting that a local condominium project, with price tags of $175,000 apiece, remained almost empty, due to high prices. He noted that land up the street was foreclosed on and now owned by the bank and that an apartment complex had numerous police calls for service while the mobile home park had practically none.


Wray and Thompson both admitted the trailer home park had not been a problem neighbor with the new ownership. The idea was to protect the FLUM.


In his comments to Council, owner Randy Allen stressed the barrow parcel, which would be home to an additional dozen trailers, would provide affordable housing without the incentives the city had to offer to other developers. He appeared to have no interest in developing the cottage lots or urban homes encouraged in the neighborhood plan.


Council members pursued a couple of angles. Council Member Chris Riley suggested negotiating with the owner to come up with some type of community benefit, such as a trail easement. The property, however, was not close to the trail and Wray was hesitant to commit the contact team to such negotiations without a discussion and a vote.


Council Member Bill Spelman, teasing out the difference between single family and mobile home zoning designations, suggested Allen simply put the homes on slabs. Neighborhood restrictive covenants aside, a manufactured home on a slab could be considered single-family housing. Allen said that was cost prohibitive.


Allen volunteered the fact that he would be happy to enter into an agreement that he would agree to revert the property’s zoning from MH back to SF if he sold it. That became part of Spelman’s motion on the case, with the intention of bringing back a restrictive covenant on second and third reading.


Council Member Laura Morrison was the sole holdout at the final vote, saying the argument to preserve the future land use map swayed her.


“I keep going back to the driving need to try to keep moving forward with the intent of the neighborhood plan and, with that, I’m not going to be able to support the motion,” Morrison said.

The final vote was 6-1 in favor of the change.

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