Conditional variance requests to place mobile homes in areas where zoning is not permitted create a juggling act for Hammond leaders trying to accommodate landowners and comply with zoning regulations.
During last Tuesday night’s council meeting, there were two more requests to place mobile homes on non-eligible lots, with mixed results. One agreed, the other refused.
As a general rule, the council is happy to grant the majority of such applications.
The requests, the latest in a series of council and Planning and Zoning agendas, have not gone unnoticed by city council members.
“I think we need to look into it,” said Councilman Sam DiVittorio. “We have to find (a solution). Most of the planning and zoning issues are about mobile homes, variances, variances, variances. At this point, there will be mobile homes everywhere. It’s important to get a hold,” he said.
Councilman Stephen Leon said the city needs to codify its vision for granting such variances.
“If zoning is done, we have to follow it,” he said.
Hammond residents Haven LaFrance and Eric Long applied for separate variances to accommodate mobile homes on their respective properties. LaFrance’s application for a mobile home site at 3605 Delia Road drew strong opposition from residents of the nearby Woodridge subdivision.
Planning Director Lacey Landrum said the property is zoned mutual family and is surrounded by several vacant lots. It is also near some wooded areas.
One Hammond resident opposed the variance, expressing concern that approval could create a “trailer park” in Hammond that could lay the groundwork to justify future mobile homes throughout the city.
The council also asked Eric Long for Apple St. for his daughter.
“I’m just trying to get a home for my kids,” Long said. “What harm will it do?”
Landrum explained to council members that he decided to build on the site. He said single-family homes are located on either side of the proposed site. There is also a vacant lot close to one side of the building.
The site is adjacent to a proposed future mobile home development. He added that there are three other mobile homes in the area with council-approved variances.
Councilor Kip Andrews said the site is in his district and he was not aware of any objections.
While LaFrance’s request was rejected, Long’s approval could create confusion around an increasingly fraught issue for the council.
“If we keep tilting, we don’t need zoning,” DiVittorio said. “We have to see where we are going as a city. It’s not personal. If everyone is fine with mobile homes all over town, then go for it. That’s not my call to make.”
Councilwoman Carly Gonzalez said many mobile homes are scattered throughout Hammond, some in poor condition. Some of them are not even safe, he added.
“If we continue to give (expand conditional use) and put in new mobile homes, we will continue the cycle,” he said. “Something needs to be done.”
Landrum said affordability is becoming more difficult with rising home prices and high mortgage rates.
“We will continue to look at (infringement requests),” he said. “Talked to the city attorney about things to look out for, how to follow fair housing regulations and make us a comfortable city. We try to understand what your dynamic is.”
Two additional mobile home requests are on the agenda for the Dec. 27 meeting.