Mobile homes once again at center of Supervisor’s meeting

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Once again, the issue of mobile homes in Pearl River County dominated yesterday’s the Board of Supervisors meeting, from the problem of the soon-to-end FEMA subsidized housing, to delinquent mobile home taxes and what to do with seized, but non-sellable, mobile homes, to a resident questioning why people are putting mobile homes on property in an area he was told they would no longer be allowed.

The first issue came up at the end of the Sheriff’s business when Tax Assessor Gary Beech asked board members if he could discuss the process by which the county has tried to collect delinquent taxes on mobile homes through-out the county. In the past, a notice has been sent to the owner of the mobile home, giving them 30 days to pay the past due taxes. If not paid, a judgment is levied against the property.

The problem, Beech said, is the large number of mobile homes that are either abandoned or used for storage. The owners of those mobile homes, he said, are rarely affected by the judgments since they are not refinanced or sold.

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Beech said that with the judgment, they can actually do more than they had in the past and actually seize the mobile home if the delinquent taxes remain unpaid. “Lamar County has been doing this for years,” said Beech. “And zero are left unpaid.”

The problem, he said, is what to do with the trailers seized that no one wants to buy. “The problem with mobile homes is we’re going to have a lot that are abandoned,” said Beech. “We are looking for a way to get rid of scrap mobile homes that are seized and no one is interested in buying.”

District 1 supervisor and board president Anthony Hales said county administrator Adrian Lumpkin “had a good suggestion.”

“Waste Management has always had a cooperative spirit with us,” said Hales. “Maybe if we contact them we can get a special rate for disposal of these trailers.”

Deciding to study the issue some more, board members said they would be able to make a more informed decision at their next meeting.

On the heels of that discussion came a Sam Mitchell Road resident who asked the supervisors why some neighbors were putting in mobile homes when he was told there would be no more. “When I brought my home after Katrina, I was told (by my real estate agent) there would be no more mobile homes there,” said John Mailhes. “Gentlemen, I ask you, how would you like to buy a $250,000 home and then have a bunch of junky trailers pop up?”

District 3 supervisor Hudson Holliday told Mailhes that in Pearl River County, unless he purchases a home in a subdivision with a covenant prohibiting mobile homes, he had no recourse, and suggested Mailhes file a complaint against the real estate agent that told him such a thing. “They should not have told you that if it was not true,” Holliday said.

Director of Planning Ed Pinero told board members that there were covenants in that area, but after reviewing them, he understood the provision against bringing in mobile homes was directly aimed at the developer. “The way the covenant is written, the only person who couldn’t put in a mobile home was the developer,” said Pinero. “What is in place now is perfectly legal.”

When Mailhes insisted a neighbor had told him they were going to start a mobile home park, Pinero assured him that no mobile home parks were being built in his neighborhood. “It is a process, they can’t just be put in,” said Pinero. He told Mailhes that if a property owner starts bringing in trailers, to call him directly and he will follow up on it.

After that discussion, the issue of the abandoned trailer on Zion Church Lane in Carriere was brought up by Holliday. The area was discussed at last week’s meeting when a resident complained about the lack of action on the debris and junk strewn about throughout the neighborhood and one home actually disconnected from the septic tank. The trailer in question has been discussed for a couple of years, without any resolution. Last week, Holliday promised results to the couple, and, as promised, visited the blighted area.

“There is a question about the trailer being on a dedicated street right of way,” said Holliday. “And we are looking in to it now. I’d like for approval to be granted so if it is on county property we can haul it away if the mobile home is determined to be on the county road.”

Holliday added that one of the houses in question directly adjacent to the abandoned trailer had burned down last weekend. “Seems like an odd coincidence to me,” said Holliday.

Finally, three members of Rebuilding Pearl River County Together met with board members to tell them about a rapidly approaching crisis the county was going to face if FEMA continued with its plans to end Katrina subsidized housing. “They are sticking to their guns and say as of March 1, 2009, there will be no subsidized housing,” said Jameye Martin of Manna Ministries. “And if they do, there is going to be a huge homeless population in Pearl River County.”

She said that as of last Friday, there were only 15 public housing units available and those were all in Picayune with none available in Poplarville.

Pam Cross of the Life Resource Center in Picayune said that since February 2006, they have repaired or rebuilt 133 residences for those displaced by Hurricane Katrina. “There are still 340 open cases,” Cross said. Of those, she said, 10 percent would be closed before the deadline. “That means 306 will still need help,” said Cross.

Emergency coordinator Danny Manley asked the trio, “Are you suggesting free housing or affordable housing,” said Manley.

Martin said, “At some point it has to be sustainable housing,” saying that most of the residents are on a fixed income whether from employment or another form of monthly income. “Even if FEMA wants to sell them the trailer, they can’t afford it,” said Martin.

Hales said that he had just talked to a state official about the issue of the county’s lack of affordable housing. He said he had been told money would soon be available that they may be able to use for those still in dire need from Katrina. He said he would gather more details as soon as he could.

A resident in the audience suggested that perhaps the county could purchase some of the MEMA cottages. “My son works for MEMA,” said the woman. “MEMA cottages are being sold for between $350 and $370, maybe you could look into that.”

Martin said that they had explored that possibility, but the Gulf Coast counties that had the cottages had recently decided they could stay as permanent residences. “They have allowed them to be permanent residences, so they are not selling any,” said Martin.

Lumpkin said they would need to “put in time,” to solve the fast-approaching problem. “We have to come up with a solution,” he said.

District 4 supervisor Patrick Lee concurred. “There is a storm coming and we have got to be ready for it,” he said.

Hales said, “Things should’ve already been taken care of before this crisis, but they weren’t.”

Pinero asked the supervisors if he could meet with the organization some time this week to come up with a solid plan. “If it is okay, I’ll meet with Miss Martin so we can come up with a plan,” said Pinero. Board members agreed and said they would discuss the problem at their next meeting.

The next board of supervisors meeting is February 23 at 9 am in the board room on Julia Street, Poplarville.