Epping considers mobile home width restriction to keep 'dumpy trailers' outBy JASON SCHREIBER
Union Leader Correspondent
December 17. 2017 8:36PM
EPPING — Planning board Chairman Joe Foley pulled no punches during a lengthy debate on whether the town should adopt a minimum width restriction on any older mobile homes that are hauled into town and placed on a house lot.
“What’s the real driver on this? I’ll cut (to) the chase. Some of it’s we don’t want a bunch of dumpy trailers put in residential housing units and residential housing areas,” Foley told board members.
The board voted 3 to 2 last Thursday night in favor of asking Town Planner Brittany Howard to look into the legality of the town restricting the width of mobile homes.
According to board members, the intent of such a restriction is to encourage mobile home owners to bring more modern homes to town that would be safer and wider.
A newer mobile home would also help maintain property values in the neighborhood where it’s located, board member Heather Clark said.
Foley wondered if old mobile homes coming to town is really a big enough problem that needs to be regulated, but insisted, “We certainly don’t want to become a repository for junk trailers.”
Howard said most of the mobile homes that have moved to town have been new or “newish.” Still, some old ones have come to town in recent years.
Howard said the most recent older mobile homes that were put on house lots in Epping were one manufactured in 1985 and a couple made in the 1990s. She said the 1985 mobile home was in safe condition, but was “on the edge” and needed work.
Howard expressed concerns about the structural integrity of a 32-year-old mobile home that’s been transported from one property to another.
“I mean, I’m in my 30s and I don’t move that great, I can’t imagine being a house,” she said.
Howard initially suggested that the town consider a rule change to prohibit mobile homes 20 years and older from being moved into town. However, she said she has since learned of a state law that allows mobile homes made after 1979 to be brought in as long as they have a Housing and Urban Development seal and the proper state warranty sticker.
The board then discussed the possibility of a zoning change that would require mobile homes to be at least 14 feet wide. The width restriction would encourage newer mobile homes to be brought to town because they’re wider than older ones, Howard said.
Michael Yergeau, a selectman who serves on the planning board, opposed the rule, saying he felt the town was “over-regulating” mobile homes. He also worries that it could face a legal challenge.
Clark said she didn’t think the width requirement was too restrictive.
“By having the wider restriction you’re only enhancing the property values of the neighbors where they’re going to be, so I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing,” she said.
If Howard finds that the width restriction is legal, the board could propose a zoning change for voters to consider in March.