Zoning subcommittee considers restricting manufactured homes

Members of a subcommittee rewriting Minot’s zoning ordinances prefer that manufactured homes stay out of traditional residential areas.

The subcommittee is looking into what it can legally do regarding manufactured homes while completing zoning code updates to recommend to the Minot Planning Commission. Subcommittee members held a day-long review session Tuesday.

The subcommittee discussed the kind of ordinances change that would be necessary to stop the Minot City Council from allowing manufactured homes in the valley as replacement for flooded housing. The council has approved some manufactured homes on condition they be permanently secured.

The Minot Board of Realtors has a taken a position against manufactured homes in traditional residential areas.

“If you listen to the neighborhoods, they don’t want it, either,” said subcommittee member Rolly Ackerman of Ackerman Surveying.

Federal courts have ruled that cities cannot ban housing based on construction type, which means that manufactured homes can’t be specifically prohibited in traditional residential areas.

City attorney John Van Grinsven said Minot has sought to comply with court rulings by crafting an ordinance that enables the council to deny manufactured housing in residential areas based on objective and subjective criteria related to neighborhood compatibility. Because the value of manufactured homes today often exceeds the value of the older homes damaged in the flood, it is harder to claim they are not compatible, he said.

Recent requests for doublewide manufactured homes in the flooded area have not gone through the planning commission for conditional use permits. They have gone directly to the city council as requests for moving permits. Subcommittee members considered whether it would be possible to block that avenue of permission.

Dave Pankow, who chairs both the Minot Planning Commission and the subcommittee, said if manufactured homes are going to be allowed outside mobile home parks, requests should get a hearing before the planning commission. Both the council and the planning commission also have indicated a need for a zoning ordinance that sets out standards for locating manufactured homes in traditional residential areas, including having permanent foundations and a door facing the street.

The subcommittee’s objection is only to manufactured homes. Modular homes, which are allowed in all residential areas in Minot now, would continue to be allowed in the proposed ordinances.

The subcommittee also addressed a couple of other areas Tuesday that had raised concern during earlier hearings. The draft ordinances were revised to ease specific design requirements that troubled builders. The revised wording still requires color and elevation choices to create neighborhood variation in larger developments.

The draft ordinances require developments with smaller lot sizes to create green space and work with Minot Park District through donations of land or cash.

Minot Park Board members expressed concern in the past that they weren’t getting a voice in the process. City planner Donna Bye said the city is communicating with park officials and currently is reviewing sample ordinances suggested by the board.