|Recently, my husband and I packed up our four children and
took them to the Gainesville City Council meeting to observe
our government at work. We also went to voice our opinion
regarding the city's disregard of the Georgia Department of
Community Affairs Industrialized Housing Act (www.dca.state.ga.us/development/constructioncodes/programs.)
This law was enacted to prohibit industrialized home builders
from being discriminated against. It excludes manufactured
(mobile) homes, which are regulated by the U.S. Department
of Housing and Urban Development.
In my statement, I recognized the importance of upholding
our ordinances to preserve the city's future. I also mentioned
that there is a delicate balance between protecting residential
neighborhoods while attracting businesses and industry.
I hold a master of science in housing and consumer economics
from the University of Georgia and know the differences between
manufactured, modular and "stick-built" homes. The
"modular home" the city stopped in Water's Edge
subdivision is beautiful. Have council members actually visited
the site? I found a beautiful home complete with a basement,
tremendous square footage, dormer windows and a shingled roof.
The craftsmanship of the molding and cabinetry work was exquisite.
Modular homes have been around for nearly 100 years. Former
President Jimmy Carter grew up in a Sears and Roebuck modular
house brought in by train. Many celebrities, such as Dale
Earnhardt Jr., Shaquille O'Neal and others, live in industralized
homes. CNN, Clark Howard and Bob Villa have featured specials
on modular-built homes.
Industrialized housing offers an affordable option. There
are fewer weather delays, less time spent juggling contractors,
and homes often are built better, since work must meet standards
Once the modules are set, more inspections are required before
the Certificate of Occupancy is issued. Not only do industrialized
homes often exceed code, they have been documented to better
withstand wind damage from hurricanes, according to the Federal
Emergency Management Agency.
These facts were presented to the Council by industry experts
Steve Snyder of the Modular Building Association in Washington,
D.C., and Bob Warren of Home Funding. Yet not one council
member asked a question.
At the meeting, Grant Smereczynsky pointed out that when
applying for a building permit in Gainesville, there are two
options: manufactured home or single-family residential home.
Other governments have a box for "industrialized housing,"
even Hall County. Why is it different in the city? In 2001,
this was challenged with many of the same building and planning
officials. The outcome: there's now a box and the law was
rewritten to comply with the Georgia Department of Community
After researching the Web site www.buildingsystemsnetwork.com,
I found a letter dated March 31 from Commissioner Mike Beatty,
Department of Community Affairs, sent to Mayor George Wangemann
and each council member. It stated that industrialized housing
does not follow the same HUD codes as manufactured housing,
and it is a violation for local governments to restrict industrialized
building from a zoning district based solely on the fact that
it is not built "on site."
If they want to enforce the code to the "nth" degree,
how can our builders even use pre-fab trusses in home construction?
Is there some reason the city councilmen find it fair to
place a financial burden on Building Systems Network, a small
family based business, and jeopardize the city funding for
more affordable housing?
Sandra Cantrell - Gainesville
House Showdown Court Case Draws National Attention
City Unfairly Prohibits Industrialized Housing
won't accept defeat in legal battle Company vows to continue fight to build modular home
Homes Builder Challenges Discrimination from City Officials
in Zoning Case
rejects rezoning for prefab home
housing battle heats up over a modular home
home earns another 'no' from Gainesville
takes appeal to next level