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Council debates mobile home restriction

By Staff | Jul 15, 2009

A handful of citizens turned out on Monday evening to discuss a proposed ordinance to restrict the placement of mobile homes in the city limits of Sistersville.

Most agreed the council should prohibit trailers from being placed on vacant lots on Chelsea Street, the riverfront and the historical downtown district, but a few did not want them in Sistersville at all, especially near their homes.

“I’d like to speak to council on behalf of the community,” stated Beri Fox, “we just came from the Tyler Alive meeting with ON TRAC. I’d like to discourage council from making any decision on this ordinance until after the revitalization group comes in and offers their recommendations on how to revitalize the community and how to give it the aesthetic appearance we all want it to have. I think it’s critically important for the community to look good and you guys have done a wonderful job. My personal opinion is that you shouldn’t be able to place trailers in between residential homes or on an empty lot.”

“I don’t think that people should be able to pull a trailer in and park it on a lot,” remarked Phil Konopacky. “Especially within the city limits or in the historical district.”

“I think this is where council could take some of the information that’s given and work to make good decisions to protect the appearance of Sistersville,” Fox recanted. “I would hate to see that falter or you guys make a decision prematurely; that would upset the long term growth of the community.”

Mayor Dave Fox commented, “It wouldn’t be prematurely if we made a decision because we have been working on this ordinance for a couple months at least. I think there are places that trailers should go and places that they shouldn’t. But when this ordinance first came out it restricted the placement of trailers anywhere. We can’t do that.”

Harold Dally said, “The council needs to make some type of ordinance stating where trailers can be placed.”

“We need to protect the property values of the nicer homes in town so they don’t lose their value as well,” added Beri.

Elaine Burger is among the citizens who do not want trailers placed around their homes. “My sister and I put a lot of money into restoring two homes on Stocking Avenue (in Sistersville). Right next to me is a lot that would hold three trailers and I wouldn’t want to see a trailer park right next to my house that I have invested money in,” she said.

Councilman Vance Ash asked, “How many trailers do we have in our neighborhood already?”

Beri answered, “Down on the corner there are a whole bunch of them.”

Ash said, “It doesn’t make it right and it doesn’t make it wrong. You can’t tell people what they can do and not do with their property.”

“The point about placing trailers is that someone can bring a 20-year-old trailer and park it the same as a brand new one. You don’t want that to happen in a lot of areas in town. I think council has a lot to consider before voting.”

Mayor Fox said, “An ordinance has been created and amended once or twice. At first it stated that manufactured homes could not be placed anywhere and we threw that one out. I’ve seen manufactured homes that I would trade for 70 percent of the homes in Sistersville any day of the week.”

He continued, “I cannot imagine where there are really nice houses in Sistersville that someone could afford to buy that lot and stick a trailer on it.”

“They’re not, but there are certain individuals like in Vance’s and my neighborhood that certainly can afford to own property. We want an ordinance in place that says they can’t put a trailer there,” stated Beri.

Councilman Dave Dietrich said, “I’m trying to get people to move to town and if it takes them pulling in a trailer and that is all they can afford, I don’t think we have the right. If they are going to help lower our water bills and sewer bills, then I’m all about people coming to town. There are some houses in this town that I would love to see torn down and a trailer put in.”

“There are people who can’t afford houses and I would hate to say, ‘You can’t live in the city of Sistersville’. But I can also see the point of zoning for trailers. I would like to see them kept off of Route 2 and out of the historic district, but other than that I am fine with it,” said Dave. “I don’t like the idea of saying absolutely not.”

He continued, “Juni, your son lived in a trailer in the city limits. I lived in a trailer in the city limits of Paden City.”

Dally interrupted, “That’s because there was not an ordinance. I would have made other arrangements.”

“I’m for allowing them in the city limits with restrictions on where they can go. But I’m not for restricting them completely,” Dave stated. “As long as I have lived here I have never seen an issue with this. My question is, why are we creating an issue where there is no issue? Why are you opening up a can of worms when there is no reason to? I’ve been here 15 years and I have yet to see an issue with trailers.”

“Ann Doig lives on McCoy Heights. There were two brothers from New Martinsville that wanted to buy the property from Washington Street to High Street and put a trailer park in there, so I bought the property,” commented Dally.

“And what did you do with it,” asked Ash.

“I put one trailer on it,” Dally answered. “But that didn’t protect Ann’s house. If I had been restricted I wouldn’t have done that and it would have been okay.”

Dally then asked Doig if she would want a trailer park across from her house to which she replied, “There was one there for a long time.”

Dave said, “It didn’t bother me any.”

“In the long run that ordinance would be a benefit to the City of Sistersville,” said Dally.

“So in the last 15 years we haven’t had any trailers move in that I know of but in the long run it’s going to benefit us? In what 400 years?” Dave asked.

Councilman Mike Tuttle commented, “You have to agree that in the last three years we have created a lot more empty lots that we have in the last 15 years.”

“For everyone of you who is in favor of this ordinance, there is a person who has a trailer who would sit there and tell us they want to live here. You can’t kick them out,” stated Dave.

Beri said, “It’s to protect the homes. People have come here from other states and invested a lot of money. We need to protect their property values. These people don’t typically live here but they are all coming here. If we don’t have something to protect their property values, they will quit coming.”

Konopacky said, “I would not have bought my house if there had been a trailer next to it.”

“When I bought my house Precision wasn’t all the way down the block, but it is now,” said Beri. “That’s life. You just have to live with it.”

Dave said, “I would certainly hope we like manufacturing to expand. That makes more jobs so we can have more people. As a business owner I am sure you would like to expand Marble King and I don’t think you would want citizens to say Marble King stopped here when I moved to town and now they are halfway down the block.”

Beri answered, “You have to option that when you outgrow your facility, you move. I mean the city doesn’t get any taxes from them. There’s no local tax.”

No decision was made regarding the ordinance.

In other news, Sistersville Police Chief Dave Howell requested permission from the council to hire Matt Keyes to fill the full-time vacancy on the police force.

Council unanimously voted in favor of the hire, stating he would be a good fit for the Sistersville Police Department.