Board reconsiders zoning ordinance

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 27, 2006

JACKSON – If you are considering purchasing a new home in Northampton County, you may want to wait another month or two.

The Northampton County Board of Commissioners agreed to consider revising an amendment passed in January that would require all new built residential structures to have a 5/12′-roof pitch.

This applies to traditional stick-built homes as well as pre-manufactured housing.

Northampton County Economic Development Director Gary Brown and NC Manufactured Housing Institute Director of Governmental Affairs, Melissa Johnson were in attendance last week at the county commissioners meeting to present technical information concerning the amendment.

The board had unanimously adopted the resolution early this year in an attempt to improve the appearance and aesthetic standards of residential developments within the community.

A 3/12′- pitched roof had been the county standard before the resolution was passed in January.

In Brown’s information document presented to the board June 19, local home retailers chimed in on the difference between the two standards.

Wayne Brown of Brown’s Mobile Homes in Murfreesboro said that he had not experienced any problems with the 3/12′ pitched roof in the 28-30 years that he has been in business.

Mike Miller of Sweet Water Homes stated that he believes consumers have more trouble with the higher pitched roofs due the increased number of hinges, which he believes makes the roof weaker in certain spots. Miller also noted that there may even be problems related to the transport of the larger roof units.

The provision did not however apply to singlewide manufactured homes.

In April, Johnson and several area mobile home dealers went before the board to request that the resolution (Article I, Section I-8) be reconsidered because it would increase the cost of new residences in the county by close to $7,000 per home.

The position of Johnson and local home manufacturers was that they had not been informed of the proposed resolution in time to inform the board of the financial consequences of such action.

&uot;Northampton County is an area that has many residents living in the lower income range for the state,&uot; Johnson said in a telephone interview from her office on Friday. &uot;I don’t think that the board had all the necessary information in front of them when they came to this conclusion.&uot;

In fact, Johnson’s organization, a non-profit group that assists retailers and home buyers with information regarding regulations and statistics concerning the manufacture and purchase of new homes, was not aware of the amendment until one of its members went to secure a permit to build a home.

The NCMHI sprung into action when it realized the financial strain such legislation would put on the local population.

&uot;This new amendment, along with the county’s requirement of continuous underpinning of newly bought homes, could easily push the costs of purchasing a new home that meets the county’s standards upward of $10,000,&uot; Johnson said.

Johnson and Brown’s presentation in April prompted the board to direct the County Manager’s office to investigate the claims and bring the information back before the board.

In a document presented to the board by Gary Brown, County Manager Wayne Jenkins concurred with the Economic Development Commission’s research.

&uot;I support any efforts by Northampton County citizens to become home owners,&uot; Jenkins stated. &uot;Any ordinance in Northampton County concerning home ownership should be in support of our citizens.&uot;

The Northampton County Planning Board is planning to make a determination of the organization’s position in July, with the hope of having a public hearing on the matter at August’s Board of Commissioners meeting.