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Development decisions delayed

Two are postponed, but one that would help some mobile home owners is nudged forward.

Published August 13, 2006

CLEARWATER - A county board delayed consideration of a proposal to let developers build more houses on land without notifying neighbors in advance.

The board also postponed a decision on whether to eliminate a 90-day cushion for mobile home renters.

Under the current rules, a developer must wait at least 90 days after the planning agency hearing before the County Commission hears his proposal to rezone a mobile home park.

The cushion, which also applies to mobile home owners, gives those affected a chance to find a new place to live. The proposal would eliminate the protection for renters but not for owners.

Both initiatives are scheduled to come back before the county zoning examiners on Sept. 14 for public comment.

The board did agree to pass on, to the Local Planning Agency, a proposal that would force developers to provide short-term monetary assistance to some mobile home owners displaced by the redevelopment of their parks. In doing so, the county would bring the zoning and land-use code into agreement with the Mobile Home Transition Ordinance that sets up the policy.

Ray Brooks, a mobile home owner and candidate for County Commission, objected because mobile home activists have sued the county over the transition ordinance, saying it is in "direct violation" of state law.

Assistant county attorney Jim Bennett said he expects a court to rule on the issue before the County Commission votes on it in October. If it's not heard or the judge rules against it, the county can withdraw it from the agenda.

The transition proposal will become one of the first items to go through the county's interim plan to restructure the Local Planning Agency.

The agency, which was made up of the entire planning department, decided whether to recommend that the County Commission pass or deny proposals the staff members themselves had created. It had been doing business that way for more than 20 years.

At the planning agency's meeting Thursday, County Administrator Steve Spratt announced a new way of handling the situation.

The staff will still come up with ideas and will hold a fact-finding examiners' hearing in public. The examiners will issue a report to the planning agency, which will be made up of county employees who have nothing to do with the creation of zoning rules. The planning agency will then make a recommendation to the County Commission, which will make the final decision.

The first meeting of the newly constituted interim Local Planning Agency is scheduled for Sept. 18.

[Last modified August 12, 2006, 11:09:04]

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