FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — The Forsyth County Commission voted June 3 to double the minimum lot size for manufactured dwellings in areas not zoned for mobile homes.

Commissioners unanimously voted to increase the minimum lot size from 1- to 2-acres. Officials say the move, along with other updates approved by the board June 3, were made to close a “loophole” in the county codes that allowed for de-facto mobile home parks.

Forsyth County issued 14 mobile home permits last year.

The Board of Commissioner’s vote went against recommendations made by the Planning Commission in April.

Planning commissioners took issue with the 2-acre minimum, stating Forsyth County’s steep land costs could price out many families if lot size minimums were increased.

That issue was also raised by a representative from a North Georgia-based company specializing in manufactured homes at the Planning Commission’s April 27 meeting.

Taylor Jackson, vice president of Dahlonega-based Bob’s Family Housing, said only select banks issue loans for manufactured homes, and those that do will not finance the purchase if the land and property improvement costs match or exceed the price of the home itself — on average about $70,000 to $80,000.

The Planning Commission voted to recommend holding the lot size minimum at 1 acre for residential zones outside of mobile home parks.

However, several members of the County Commission said the move was required to close the “loophole” within the county’s codes, and that there are still some safeguards in place to allow for mobile homes in certain situations.

Mobile homes would still be permitted on lots of under 2 acres if the home were to replace an existing mobile home, and a variance could be granted to lower the threshold on individual lots outside of subdivisions.

The manufactured home ordinance also includes a medical hardship clause which allows a mobile home to be installed in the rear yard on the property of a detached single-family home, under certain zoning designations, for medical purposes. That includes a situation in which the applicant can show the mobile home is being installed because the health or health-related problem of a family member “warrants close proximity of that relative for care or monitoring purposes,” or when the occupant is 65-years or older.

Though he eventually voted for the ordinance change, Commissioner Todd Levent took issue with raising the minimum lot size. Levent echoed some of the sentiments of the Planning Commission, including that local land prices would price potential mobile home buyers out of the county. He also said there could be a way to shut down the de-facto mobile home park loophole without “punishing others.”

Levent also floated the possibility of raising the minimum lot size to 2 acres north of Ga. 20, but keeping it lower in areas south of the roadway due to the area’s higher land prices.

Other commissioners disagreed.

“Quite frankly, between the hardship and the legal non-conforming [use], I think people are covered right now at 2 acres,” Commissioner Laura Semanson said.

Commission Chairwoman Cindy Jones Mills suggested the Planning Commission was not fully aware the ordinance change was meant to close the county code’s loophole.

The board backed the Planning Commission’s other recommendations, which includes provisions that any skirting should be brick, masonry or siding that has the appearance “of these materials” and should enclose the undercarriage of the home, and that utility meters should not be placed in highly visible areas. The board also voted in favor of the Planning Commission’s recommendation the minimum home size should be determined by a property’s underlying zoning.

County staff had suggested a minimum of 900-square feet. Some zones within the county allow for a minimum of 700-square feet.

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