Ray - Can town refuse zoning permit? - Posted by Bryan

Posted by ray@lcorn on August 03, 2002 at 10:48:08:


I served for 12 years on my local planning commission, and on the Board of Directors of our state’s planning association. I got involved with community planning years ago because I found out that these were the folks that made the rules I had to lay by as a builder/developer/investor. You’re finding out the same thing.

It sounds like you’re into some old fashioned horse trading with a common sense type of planner. Though what he is doing may not be exactly by the book, he’s likely looking at his actions as the ends justifying the means.

You have a couple of choices. You can continue to play the game his way and get the park turned around one space at a time. The alternative is to get a copy of the zoning ordinance and see exactly what the standards are. That’s usually my first move when acquiring a park. I like to know what the rules are before starting the game.

Depending on what is on the ordinance, you may find that the planner is overstepping his bounds. I doubt seriously that the code would allow him to selectively require improvements on one space to get approval for another. But the code requirements may even be more restrictive, requiring the compliance for the entire park before any new permits are granted.

So before you get too frisky about quoting code back to him, remember the reality of what you’re dealing with. Picking a fight with the guy that holds approval power is usually not a good idea, especially if he can be worked with, and it sounds like he can.

My approach would be to have a meeting on site with the planner, a copy of the code, a plat sheet of your park, and talk about a realistic plan to bring the park into compliance with the ordinance. Often there is a big difference in “cleaned up” and “compliance.” The two of you should be able to walk around the place and come up with a reasonable plan to clean the place up, and he needs to know you’re committed to doing that. If you will make a good faith effort to develop and implement the plan, and the planner knows that you are in the deal for the long haul, then he can probably loosen the reins on you enough to get the cash flow up a little quicker.

It sounds like you’ve got a guy you can work with. I can tell you that it could be a whole lot worse. Try the approach and let me know what happens.


Ray - Can town refuse zoning permit? - Posted by Bryan

Posted by Bryan on August 02, 2002 at 20:10:56:


I’ve heard where you deal with towns, zoning, ordinances etc. so I hope you can help me. I own a 22 space MHP here in NC. I bought the park in very poor condition and have since pulled out 10 MHs and brought in 8 newer models. The town planner issues the zoning permits which are of course needed when I pull in new MHs. However, all the zoning permits have had “strings” attached. For example, he would say…“build a new deck on MH #8 and I’ll give you a zoning permit for the new mobile home you just bought”. He says he has a lot of pressure on him to get my park cleaned up.
Up until now I’ve been very nice (putting on my best Dale Carnegie)and playing this game and doing what he says.

However, recently I’ve just rented my first lot and it will be up to my tenant to put his own underskirting and decks on - I have given this tenant 30 days but it will take longer than that. The town planner has refused my zoning permit until decks and underskirting are on this one MH.
I work in my park full time and must work everyday to quickly set up my new MHs so I can sell them - time is money! Question - can he refuse my zoning permit on these grounds?

Thanks in advance,


Re: Ray - Can town refuse zoning permit? - Posted by Bryan

Posted by Bryan on August 05, 2002 at 08:45:36:


I think I’ll take your first option and just keep “horse trading” with the town planner even though he has asked a lot this time. Most of the MHP owners have butted heads with this guy and that is the last thing I want to do. I would rather not argue with him whether he has the right or not to withhold a zoning permit - your probably right - there could be worse town planners to deal with.

Again, thanks for your time