The Citizen-Times (Asheville, NC)
By: Clarke Morrison
April 12, 2013
RALEIGH -- A bill sponsored by state Rep. Nathan Ramsey would strip North Carolina counties of their ability to restrict where manufactured housing can be located.
The Buncombe County Republican said he introduced the measure to increase the supply of affordable housing. Current zoning ordinances in Buncombe and some other counties don't allow new manufactured housing in some residential areas.
"Everyone knows affordable housing is a problem in Western North Carolina," Ramsey said. "It's a response to so many people out there who own a piece of land, and the government says they can't put a home they can afford on their land."
The bill says that counties cannot adopt or enforce zoning regulations that exclude manufactured homes from being located on individual lots in areas zoned for single-family residential use.
The proposed law would make an exception for historic districts "where uniform aesthetic and design standards are imposed or in any other area where the county has a compelling interest in preserving aesthetic and design standards."
Counties would still be allowed to impose design standards for manufactured housing, Ramsey said. The legislation wouldn't apply to incorporated areas or mobile home parks, he said.
"It makes counties treat manufactured housing the same way they treat other types of single-family housing," Ramsey said.
Josh O'Conner, Buncombe County's zoning administrator, said that under the county's zoning ordinance manufactured housing is prohibited in about 10 percent of the county. The districts where it isn't allowed are R-1, R-2, neighborhood service, commercial service, public service and the Beaverdam community, he said.
David Gantt, chairman of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners, said county officials have been considering making a similar change.
But Gantt noted that some residents are opposed to manufactured housing in their neighborhoods because of fears it can lower property values.
"I think you always have the affordable housing versus the local control of what neighborhoods should look like," Gantt said. "There are some mobile home situations that are not appropriate. I have mixed feelings about it."
Ramsey, who is serving his first term as a state legislator, was an ardent opponent of county zoning when he served as chairman of the Board of Commissioners. The board enacted countywide zoning in 2007.