Posted by: Patricia Salkin | October 27, 2009

Nonconforming Mobile Home May Not Be Replaced With New Mobile Home

The city brought a legal action against David and Marian Cox after they replaced a mobile home on their property that was originally placed on the land in 1990 so that Marian Cox’s parents could reside there. They resided on the property until their deaths in 1994 and 1995, after which David Cox took ownership of the mobile home and decided to replace it in 2006. The city alleged that the Coxes were in violation of a city zoning ordinance (the “Ordinance”), which barred mobile homes or manufactured homes on properties in their residential district, except as a replacement for an existing non-conforming residence.

A 2002 amendment to the city’s zoning ordinance prohibited “mobile homes” or “manufactured homes” in the district where the Coxes resided. Thus, the Cox’s mobile home was a permitted non-conforming use. The Ordinance allowed “needed routine improvements,” including “replacement” of “non-conforming residences.” In 2006, the Coxes replaced the existing 660 square foot non-conforming mobile home with what they characterized as a 1,980 square foot “modular home.” (Modular homes were permitted in the district.) The Coxes maintained that this replacement was authorized by the Ordinance.

The Court of Appeals of Georgia disagreed with the Coxes, ruling in favor the city. The court found that the replacement home was a non-conforming mobile home and not a permitted modular home. Further, while the Ordinance allowed improvements and replacement of non-conforming residences, the Ordinance also prohibited the expansion or extension of such non-conforming uses. Since the Cox’s replacement mobile home was larger than the original mobile home, it was not permitted under the Ordinance. The Coxes had also contended that the Ordinance did not prohibit the expansion of the square footage of the non-conforming home, but only prohibited the extension of the non-conforming use “to an area of land greater than the existing lot.” The court disagreed, noting that the Ordinance did not simply refer to the extension of a “non-conforming use,” but specifically referred to improvement, replacement and expansion of “non-conforming residences.”

Cox v. City of Sasser, 2009 WL 3068776 (Ga. App. 9/28/2009).

This abstract is based on one that appears in the Quinlan Zoning Law E-News.  For subscription information see: http://west.thomson.com/signup/newsletters/215.aspx


Responses

  1. This really makes me angry. What do people have against mobile or modular homes? This is a classic case of stereotyping. People have the right to live in whatever house they choose to live in.


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