Requests for conditional variances to place mobile homes in areas where zoning does not allow is a juggling act for Hammond leaders as they try to accommodate landowners and comply with zoning regulations.
Two more requests to place mobile homes in non-compliant areas were presented last Tuesday night during a council meeting with mixed results. One was granted, the other was denied.
Generally, the council was in favor of granting the majority of such petitions.
The requests were just the latest that continue to pop up on the council’s Planning and Zoning agendas, something that hasn’t been lost on city council members.
“I think we need to take a hard look at it,” said Councilman Sam DiVittorio. “We have to figure out (a solution). Most planning and zoning problems involve mobile homes and variances, variances, and variances. At this point, it will just be mobile homes everywhere. It’s important to get hold of it.”
Councilman Steven Leon said the city needs to codify its vision for granting such a variance.
“If zoning is in place, we have to follow that,” he said.
Hammond residents Hayven LaFrance and Eric Long applied for separate variances to put mobile homes on their respective properties. LaFrance’s application to place a mobile home at 3605 Delia Road drew strong opposition from residents of the nearby Woodridge subdivision.
Planning director Lacy Landrum said the property is zoned for single family and is surrounded by vacant lots. It is also near some wooded areas.
One Hammond resident, expressing opposition to the variance, expressed concern that approval could lay the groundwork for additional mobile home justifications throughout the city, in case a “trailer park” is established in Hammond.
The council also heard a petition from Eric Long to put a trailer on his lot at 1400 Apple St. to his daughter.
“I’m just trying to get my kids a home to start with,” Long said. “What harm will it do?”
Landrum explained to council members that the lot has been cleared for construction. She said there are single family homes on either side of the proposed site. There is also a vacant lot close to one side of the property.
The lot is adjacent to a proposed site for future mobile homes. She said there are three other mobile homes in that area where the Council has approved variances.
Council Chairman Kip Andrews said the site is in his area and he was not aware of any opposition.
LaFrance’s request was denied but Long approved, potentially adding to the confusion surrounding an increasingly vexing issue for the council.
“If we keep going, there will be no need for zoning (regulations),” DiVittorio said. “We have to look at where we want to go as a city. It is nothing personal. If everyone is okay with mobile homes going all over the city, go for it. It’s not my call to do it.”
Councilwoman Carlee Gonzales said there are many mobile homes scattered throughout Hammond and some of them are in poor condition. She said some of them are not even safe.
“If we keep giving (increased conditional uses) and putting in new mobile homes, we’re continuing the cycle,” she said. “Something has to be done.”
Landrum said affordability is becoming more challenging due to rising home costs and higher mortgage rates.
“We will continue to see (variance requests),” she said. “There was a conversation with the city attorney about things to look at as well as compliance with our fair housing rules and making sure we have an accommodating city. We try to make sure you understand what the dynamic is.”
Two additional applications for mobile homes are on the agenda for the December 27 meeting.