By Jan Schultz
The Imperial Republican
One of the suggested additions in the city of Imperial’s Comprehensive Plan update deals with mobile home parks and licensing of them.
That addition to the zoning regulations was among the discussion at a May 6 meeting with two planners from Miller & Associates, who is working with the city on the update.
Brenda Jensen and Craig Bennett met with Planning Commission members at this latest meeting. About six others also attended.
The plan is still in its draft form. This month’s meeting was the fourth time Miller & Associates has met with the Planning Commission and public to gather input.
Comprehensive plans are required to be updated every 10 years. Work on Imperial’s update has been underway for several years.
Concerning the proposed mobile home park regulations, a new section titled “Duties of owner, manager and licensee” is included in the update.
It requires a license to be renewed each year, and also lists manager duties, including maintaining “clean, orderly and sanitary conditions” and prohibiting use of the mobile home by more occupants than designed for (determined by International Building Code).
The proposed regulations would give the mobile home park manager a list of their deficiencies as each renewal came around, and would give the owner time to comply.
“Mobile homes are a form of residential living we need in rural areas,” Bennett said.
These proposals do not mean mobile homes are considered unnecessary, he added. On a question whether the city’s nuisance ordinances cover mobile homes, City Clerk/Administrator Jo Leyland noted they do, but in a limited capacity. She said if there is a broken window, the nuisance codes are satisfied if the window is boarded up. However, the unit can then sit unoccupied in that condition, which she does not favor.
Leyland said, in at least one case, the mobile home park is not filling the need for housing. She said there are 10 to 15 mobile homes at one site that are uninhabitable.
Bill Bauerle, who attended the meeting, questioned whether a yearly license renewal was too often. The term of the license isn’t as critical if there are “teeth” put into the inspections, he said.
The planners emphasized good communication will be needed if the city plan transitions to these regulations.
All four Planning Commission members at the meeting supported more stringent regulations on mobile homes.
Other topics touched on at the May 6 meeting included the city’s gateway entrances, hike/bike trails, residential development and future annexation possibilities.
The planners’ research found a “definite need” for housing in Imperial, which will require future areas for development beyond the Cornerstone property, Jensen said.
Six potential areas for residential expansion are listed in the proposed plan at this time.
There are several potential areas outside the current city limits identified in the proposals as possible areas for future expansion for housing, and possible annexation.
Jensen noted that state law requires that an “annexation plan” be included in the Comprehensive Plan.
Reviewing public input from other meetings, Jensen and Bennett noted many people wanted to see a hike/bike trail from Imperial to Enders Reservoir.
However, that is likely cost-prohibitive so included in the plan update are three options for trails in Imperial that could be built one at a time, then eventually connected.
Other suggestions for recreation to consider in the future are a splash pad, dog park and additional courts and soccer fields.
Also included in the plan update are new zoning regulations dealing with wind energy systems.
Planning Commission Chair man Nick Schultz also noted their zoning regulations need a third type of commercial district for medical and financial businesses, as examples, that do not fall under the current commercial districts.
The city now has two commercial districts for zoning purposes—downtown commercial and highway commercial.
The third one that was proposed—office commercial—would include businesses with limited customer traffic and they would have to comply with residential set-back and size regulations.
The Planning Commission will meet next on June 17. The planners asked members to submit any additional changes or suggestions to the plan before that meeting.
Before the Planning Commission gives its approval to the update, they will schedule a public hearing before their body. That will be followed by a public hearing before the city council, which gives the final approval.