A public hearing to discuss possible adoption of an ordinance to reduce the minimum front yard setback for carports brought out several concerned citizens fearing the ordinance would force them to tear their existing carports down.
“My husband and I bought our place in 1997 and began working on it. For everything we did to our trailer we came here to get a permit,” said Jane Mauldin of the 26-gauge structure outside her home. “That carport has been connected to our trailer since '97. It has not moved and to go in now and to say we might have to give it up and tear it down after all these years isn't fair.”
Chalet City manager Jana Carver agreed.
“A lot of our residents have been there for 40 years and have a carport. To come in now and have to move their carports at this time is not feasible. Making them move existing structures doesn't work financially,” she told the council, noting Chalet City is private property.
But the proposed ordinance said nothing about tearing down existing structures.
“The city did not put this ordinance on the agenda to make you tear them down,” city attorney Robert Allibon told the crowd. “The city is contemplating fixing the ordinance to reduce the current 25-foot setback to 10. However, after hearing what you're telling us, I fear it is not cutting it back enough.”
“Chalet City was built in the ‘60s. At that time there were mostly single-wide 14-foot trailers,” Community Development official Cheryl McClain said. “Today, we have double- and triple-wides so we need to see if we can reduce the setback just for Chalet City.”
McClain said she turned down four carport building permits for the neighborhood in the past week because of the 25-foot requirement. There are several existing carports very close to the street line, a fact residents confirmed.
“The driveway for a double-wide trailer is 12-feet long, so for many people the support post would be 3-4 feet from the curb,” Carver said, noting that while the 10-foot proposed distance is a positive step, it is not enough.
Mayor Billy Davis said the real issue is how to bring the mobile home park into compliance with city ordinances.
“We have no intention of making anyone tear down their carport. We're trying to bring them into compliance by reducing the setback,” Davis said, noting that even though Chalet City is private property with its own streets, the city police and fire departments service them and need to be able to maneuver safely.
Permits, or lack thereof, for many of the carports in the mobile home park were also an issue.
“These are all the existing carports which we don't have any permit paperwork on,” McClain said, holding up a thick stack of paperwork. When several residents asked the city to grandfather the current structures into the ordinance, McClain stated the obvious.
“How do you grandfather in something that wasn't permitted to be put up in the first place?” she asked.
Council Place 6 Christine Gilbreath saw the point.
The ones not permitted by the city, can we address this issue by making them apply for a permit? I feel that's a better solution than grandfathering them in,” she said.
Tina Pace, Council Place 5, agreed with Gilbreath, saying it would be in the resident's best interest to get a permit, even after the fact.
“What would happen if the wind pulls it down and it need to be replaced? If you don't have a permit, what will insurance do? I like the idea of updating records so that everyone is in compliance,” she said.
Davis said that the ordinance will remain the same with a 25-foot carport setback for any new mobile home parks that come to Crowley. The proposed ordinance, he said, applies only to Chalet City as a way of getting everyone on the same page.
The council tabled the proposed ordinance, sending it back to the planning and zoning committee for adjustments. In the meantime, McClain and Carver committed to doing a full inventory of carports, permitted or not, and the distance from the back post to the curb so that the committee and council would have the facts before making a final decision on the matter.