Mobile home placement stirs debate in Winterville
By ANGELA HARNE
The Times Leader
Monday, June 18, 2018
WINTERVILLE — The installation of a mobile home on Jones Street prompted complaints from residents and a debate among town leaders about the zoning that allowed it and similar housing in the town limits.
Town ordinance allows class A or doublewide mobile homes in areas zoned R-6, which includes Jones Street, according to planning director Bryan Jones.
The town’s building inspector received two phone calls regarding the home, which were passed onto Jones. Jones provided an update to the town council via email stating the home is in compliance with the town’s ordinance. As the information was forwarded, elected officials began receiving more complaints and feedback.
Councilman Tony Moore said in one email that he supported changing the zoning to exclude mobile homes.”This is not a good place to place a mobile home. They should be allowed in mobile home parks only when in town,” Moore said in a comment directed to Calvin Henderson, president of Winterville Concerned Citizens and the Pitt County NAACP.
Henderson agreed that the large mobile home should not be allowed in the middle of traditional homes and that the zoning should be changed. “This very unfair to the citizens who have built their homes and care about their neighborhood. That unit belongs in a mobile home park. Our council member who lives in the area does not show any concerns and never communicates with many of us in north Winterville.”
This exchange did not sit well with Councilwoman Veronica Roberson, the councilwoman in question who lives in a doublewide mobile home in the same neighborhood.
“I am quite dismayed that the two of you continue to attack me on various issues concerning my service on the town board. I realize our views on various topics will differ based on our life experiences and our situations,” Roberson said an e-mail. “I live in a doublewide home, not a house. I live here because this is something that I can afford.”
Roberson defended people who choose to place mobile homes. “It is very discouraging that you would attack a means for this group of people to be afforded an opportunity for home ownership in a small portion of our community. I am very glad to have a place that I can call home. I am just as proud of my home as others living in more expensive homes. Please stop your attacks on those of us that are not fortunate as the two of you.”
The discussion continued at Monday’s council meeting.
“Do we want this town to be inclusive or exclusive?” Councilman Ricky Hines asked at the meeting. “Everyone can’t stay in a $200,000 to $300,000 home. A modest home today is $160,000. Most have to live within their means. I grew up without running water. I know what it is like to not have a bathroom. Some are just trying to make it and are living paycheck to paycheck.
“We can’t throw stones. We are supposed to help our brothers and sisters. I want Winterville to be inclusive, whether rich or poor.”
The town council should work to keep its market value up, according to Councilman Johnny Moye.
“We have got citizens invested in homes in a community and then the value of their property (decreases). Their property is important to them,” Moye said. “I don’t think I’m better than anyone else, but we must protect those with property values.”
Having a doublewide in the R-6 district does not decrease property values, Roberson said.
“This is why we have zoning for like-homes. Our area allows mobile homes,” she said.
Roberson’s father purchased two 300-foot lots years ago. Her house now sits on the property. When her father purchased the land, the value of the property was low, she said.
“When I put my home there the value went up,” Roberson said, adding since living in her home her property taxes have increased from $100 to $1,000. “People are building in areas we say they can build in, and they are increasing our tax value. What is so bad about putting a home on land where it is allowed? They are raising the tax value. You don’t have to worry about tax values going down.”
Class A doublewide homes must be built on brick foundation and are listed as real taxes and property, according to Jones.
“There is only one trailer park in town. Mostly Caucasians live there. African-Americans are buying doublewides. It gives them an opportunity for homeownership,” Roberson said.
The ordinance allowing Class A mobile homes in the R-6 district has been on the books since 1980, Jones said.
The approved 2018-19 fiscal year budget includes $100,000 to update the town’s land use plan, which regulates zoning and future development.
Roberson requested this project become part of the monthly progress report. Each council meeting assistant town manager Ben Williams gives a brief update regarding ongoing projects.
The Times-Leader serves southern Pitt County including Ayden, Grifton and Winterville.