By Faye Gaston

The Union Springs Planning Commission met on June 1, 2020, VIA phone conference, facilitated by City Attorney Elizabeth Smithart. Seven of the nine members were present. Brian Agnew, Chairman, presided.

Decisions were not made at the previous April and May meetings concerning the three requests for "conditional use for property for placement of mobile homes" on Holcombe Avenue, Montgomery Avenue, and Seale Avenue.

The requests involve zoning issues. The requests also could not be considered at the June meeting.

The reason being that public hearings could not be held due to the COVID-19 pandemic guidelines for public gatherings.

Attorney Smithart suggested a "parking lot public hearing, even though the previous two parking lot public hearings for the Hospital Board failed, due to rain both times".

Chairman Agnew polled members about having a parking lot public hearing. Co-Chairman Joyce Perrin said the public hearing should wait until all Planning Commission members are educated and certified through CAPZO (Certified Alabama Planning and Zoning Official Certification). She suggested that the CAPZO courses instructor could give suggestions.

She cautioned that aluminum wiring is a fire hazard in older mobile homes, and that these should be reviewed/checked prior to issuing a Condition Use Request. She reminded board members that prior to adopting the Comprehensive Plan several public meetings were held and not a single citizen showed up to voice their opinion about the zoning.

She said, "Now the zoning is out of control. We are not encouraging stick-built homeowners. There are locations designated to place mobile homes".

Presetta Walker was in favor of a parking lot public hearing if the majority of the board agreed.

Peggy Goodwin stated she is also in favor of this if everyone wears a mask and practices social distancing.

Charlotte Phillips was in favor of this also, "to move forward". She stated that the "mobile home place in New Town is a disgrace to the neighborhood".

Mayor Saint T. Thomas, Jr, was not in favor of a parking lot public hearing because of the problem with the communication process in that some people may not be able to hear when other individuals make comments.

Presetta Walker stated that citizens have requested that the Planning Commission Board Request include the make, model, and photos of the mobile homes to be placed in the city.

Attorney Smithart suggested the request form be revised to add the make, model, photos, and a serial number of the mobile homes.

Attorney Smithart clarified the Conditional Use requests to remove existing mobile homes and replace with a new or another mobile home on the same lot by stating the following: (1) the previous conditional use request does not exist, (2) The landowner is required to submit a new conditional use request for the new/another mobile home, (3) There will not be an issue if the mobile home is placed in a mobile home lot (park),

At the July 6, 2020, Planning Commission meeting, Attorney Johnny Adams asked, "If a mobile home is to be placed in a mobile home park would it be necessary to place a request before the Planning Commission?" The answer was no, and the names of three mobile home parks were given: Gibsons, Poe, and Chubby Ward (Sardis Road).

However, the mobile home must not be too old, must be of a certain age. If a mobile homeowner wants to purchase a lot in the city on which to place a mobile home, it is advised to first check with the City regarding local ordinances, particularly zoning laws.

At the May meeting of the Planning Commission, seven names and addresses were given for future requests for conditional use of mobile homes to be placed in the city and three future requests for rezoning.

Present at the June 1, 2020, meeting were Brian Agnew, Chairman; Joyce Perrin, Co-Chairman; Presetta Walker, Secretary; Mayor Saint T. Thomas, Jr.; Peggy Goodwin; Charlotte Phillips; and Carla Elston. Absent were Larry Stewart and Gary Hyche.

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