Garland board OKs utility extension to future mobile home park

Chris Berendt Staff Writer

November 13, 2013

GARLAND — Garland town officials will extend water and sewer service to a mobile home park that is expected to be established just outside the town limits, an endeavor board members said would boost population and ultimately translate into revenue upon future annexation.

Randy Smith owns a tract of land on North Herring Avenue/Lamb Road, and asked the Garland Board of Commissioners at Tuesday’s regular meeting if it would extend utilities to the property in hopes that Smith could maximize the number of homes. Smith previously asked the county about utilities and was told three septic tanks could be provided.

“I want to put a mobile home park out there. I have 91,000 square feet and that is enough for 10 mobile homes,” said Smith, who noted that the three county septic tanks does not maximize the property or benefit the town. “That limits the town to no water bills.”

He noted that, with the Garland board’s approval for utility service, it would provide a boost to the town.

“I think we can all agree we have a population problem here. If we put four people in each home, that’s 40 people. That is one-fifth of the total population of the town of Garland,” said Smith. “I think that’s a slick move. I realize they’re mobile homes, but I don’t see single-home developments sprouting up across town either. If anyone has anything negative to say about it, please share it because I don’t see it.”

The 91,000 square feet, which is roughly 2 acres, gives the property room for 10 mobile homes because the town of Garland requires 8,500 square feet for such homes. Smith said that 8,500 square feet would provide “plenty of room” for each home, leaving room for the proper setbacks between each.

They would not be identical, and would each have vinyl siding, shingle roofs and “be the much more updated style.”

“There would be no tin cans,” said Smith. “I’m not interested in messing with any junk.”

Roy Lowder, representative for Envirolink, which handles the town’s water and sewer operations, said the town would have to extend 2-inch pipe for water and 6-inch pipe for sewer. Smith said the town could annex the property, and the homes, at a later date. He said that if gravity sewer is needed, he could move forward with that similar to what he did at the older Family Dollar on South Ingold Avenue (he owns the property).

Garland mayor Winifred Murphy asked how Smith would control any criminal element that might arise at the park.

“We all know who sells drugs. We all know who takes drugs,” said Smith, who pointed to warning signs such as junk cars and chained-up dogs. “I have a lot invested … so I’ll be making sure that is not there. I’m going to try and avoid (screening tenants) in the beginning, because I don’t want to narrow it, but I’ll be around. I don’t want any of that activity there.”

The subdivision would have a gravel road. Smith said he would prefer that tenants have post office boxes in Garland to avoid a gaggle of mailboxes on the road, but said those issues would likely have to be ironed out with the U.S. Postal Service. For now, Smith said, he wanted to ensure he had the town’s support before making a sizable investment.

“I’m taking the financial risk here, not you all,” said Smith. “I’m the one on the hook. But I didn’t want to get too far down the road if I didn’t know I could get water and sewer down there. I’d go with three (homes), but I’d rather go with 10. I would like to have the water and sewer run out there. All I need is for you to say you’ll do it and we can go from there.”

Commissioners said they agreed that having more housing options would be a positive for the town.

“I think we definitely need to have more affordable places to live,” said Commissioner Michael Strickland.

“I think population is what’s killing us,” concurred Commissioner Ralph Smith, who is Randy Smith’s father.

Commissioner Haywood Johnson made a motion to run water and sewer to the property. Commissioner Mike Toler said it was “nothing against Mr. Smith,” but requested to “abstain” from the vote.

“We have two new members coming on to the board,” said Toler, “and I don’t think it will be right for me to vote.”

Ralph Smith said be believed the board had to give permission for such an abstention. Murphy said abstaining when there was no conflict would essentially count as an affirmative vote. Murphy subsequently asked for a vote, and it was unanimous in favor of Randy Smith’s request.

Murphy said Wednesday that town officials were looking into what the actual cost would be to extend that infrastructure, even knowing that it would ultimately recoup some of the associated costs through water and sewer rates and then property taxes upon annexation.

“I think if it’s fairly costly, we would have to look at that,” the mayor said. “We would need to spend more time seeing exactly what is needed.”

In other mobile home-related news, deputy town clerk Jennifer Richardson requested permission to consider laying out restrictions on such homes. There are already restrictions on the model date as set forth by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and expressed in Sampson County’s manufactured home ordinance, however Garland can implement appearance standards.

“Any changes would have to be more on the appearance side,” said Richardson.

According to the county’s ordinance, no manufactured home shall be placed in a manufactured home park that was manufactured prior to July 1, 1976. “A notarized certificate, showing that the unit was manufactured after this date, shall be required from the owner before any permit is issued by the Sampson County Health Department,” the ordinance states.

However, any mobile homes located in Sampson that are manufactured prior to July 1, 1976 as of the adoption of the ordinance, which was in September 2004, are grandfathered in. They may be moved to a new manufactured home park provided other regulations are met.

“HUD is the only one that can (change the date requirement) of 1976 or newer,” said Richardson, who asked to work with town attorney Joel Starling toward drafting and possibly instituting appearance standards for those homes. The board granted permission.

Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at