The Kodiak Island Borough and Kodiak City Council discussed options Tuesday for helping Jackson Mobile Home Park residences when they have to move out next spring.
Community Development Department director Bob Pederson gave some new information about dealing with movable and unmovable homes.
Regarding disposal of mobile homes, Pederson said burning would only be allowed with a permit from the Department of Environmental Conservation and only by the landowner, not the homeowner. Additionally, the parts of a home would have to be separated out and only the wood could be burnt.
Pederson also said the owner of Rasmussen’s Mobile Home Park has filed for a conditional use permit to expand the park to add 29 additional spaces. The application will go before P&Z for approval.
The question had also come up at previous meetings over whether an emergency could be declared to get financial help from state or federal agencies.
Assembly members said the borough manager had investigated that, and although the borough could declare an emergency, the current situation would not bring a response from other agencies
The assembly and council also discussed fees since the borough is considering waiving the fees associated with moving a mobile home park.
Pederson said the city is a partner in the fee structure. Additionally, city code prohibits moving mobile homes onto individual lots, and the borough wanted the city to take a look at those ordinances.
City Mayor Pat Branson said the fee question would be put on the city’s agenda for their July 21 work session.
Branson said they would also have the clerk research ordinances that could potentially be changed.
Other items brought up during the work session included:
• the possibility of creating lots smaller than the 7,500 square foot minimum to accommodate mobile homes or smaller more inexpensive housing;
• the possibility of needing to condemn the oldest mobile homes that would not withstand a move and who would do that;
• the financial costs associated with moving a home, even if the fees were waived, that could be a hardship on the home owners, and
• the possibility of home owners walking away and leaving their home, if they could not afford a move, and what would happen to the home then.
No clear answers surfaced during the work session.
The borough’s Planning and Zoning Commission were scheduled to meet in a special work session Wednesday night to discuss three draft ordinances that would, if passed by the assembly, modify borough code to allow mobile homes to be moved into parks that do not conform to borough code requirements, allow temporary storage of mobile homes on lands zoned as public use, and “ease the regulatory hurdles for establishing new mobile home parks,” according to the draft ordinance title.
Most of the mobile home parks in Kodiak, except Rasmussen’s, are nonconforming in some way, Pederson said.
Council members Terry Haines and John Whiddon both expressed concern on Tuesday about recreating problems by allowing nonconforming dwellings into a nonconforming park.
Pederson replied that the proposed amendment would keep the safety requirements of the code.
“You’ve got to meet any setbacks that the fire marshal deems appropriate for that subdivision,” Pederson said. “The most important thing in that life safety is the separation of structures. We put that in there sort of as the bottom line, you’ve got to meet that standard.”
Assembly member Dan Rohrer said he felt mobile homes and parks are held to a higher standard than other structures, and the strict rules cause park owners to lose their investment when they can’t move a new home in after one burns.
“The truth of the matter is, there are numerous homes that started out as one box and when you had a kid, you added another skid shed, and when you had the next one you added another skid shed, and eventually you realize ‘I need a family room over the top of the whole works,’” Rohrer said. “There’s tons of them all over our community.”
Branson agreed with Rohrer and said the Jackson situation is a trigger for the city and borough to look at affordable housing and ordinances.
“Unfortunately, this is the trigger for us to look at those ordinances that we have that might need updated and to move things on a little bit quicker than normal if special meetings are needed,” Branson said. “This is a situation where you need to help community members and change some ordinances, have some flexibility and not drag our feet.”