Plan to Change Zoning Rules Upsetting Builders
Hart, Amelia A., The Florida Times Union
Byline: Amelia A. Hart, Nassau Neighbors staff writer
Hilliard's plan to revamp its zoning ordinances is drawing fire from builders, residents and a state trade association for manufactured home builders.
Hilliard officials have been working for more than a year formulizing changes to the town's zoning code. Officials say they wanted to create regulations that would standardize the size and appearance of homes in the town's various residential zoning districts, with an eye on preserving the town's character in the face of oncoming growth.
The Florida Manufactured Housing Association, however, says the ordinance illegally limits manufactured housing in the town. In what could become a test case of state law, the association has warned town officials it will challenge the amended ordinance in court if it's adopted as it now stands.
Several area home builders also have voiced opposition to the ordinance, but for different reasons. They say the ordinance's proposed 1,500 square footage minimum in one zoning district will squeeze out "average Joes" who don't have the money to build a house that size.
New provisions in the zoning ordinance include revised definitions of mobile, modular and manufactured homes. It also sets, for the first time, minimum square footage requirements for homes within different residential zoning districts. The proposed code also would establish aesthetic standards regarding roofs, driveways and walks, and require attached carparks or garages in certain districts.
But a change to the existing code is not what is drawing the ire of the manufactured housing organization. Members say that the revamped ordinance still restricts manufactured and mobile homes to only two of Hilliard's six residential zones.
Association officials maintain Florida laws prohibit city and county governments from regulating homes that are manufactured off-site any differently than houses built on the lot.
Hilliard's zoning ordinance allows modular homes and manufactured buildings, which are regulated by the state's building construction standard laws, in all its zoning districts. But manufactured and mobile homes, which come under the state's motor vehicle licensing laws, are allowed in only two.
During a Sept. 16 public hearing on the ordinance, Hilliard officials said they thought they were being targeted by the association. Most cities and counties across the state limit where manufactured and mobile homes can go, including Callahan, Fernandina Beach and Nassau County, Town Attorney Robert Peters said.
The association says its opposition to the restrictions shouldn't be news to town officials. An association representative contacted Hilliard more than a year ago, when the town first began working on changing its zoning ordinances and sat in on several workshops, said Lori Killinger, association in-house counsel and director of government relations for the association. …