A new state law may soon have Hall County changing the way it looks at manufactured homes.
Senate Bill 384, which takes effect Sept. 1, will put a stop to cities and counties refusing to accept pre-owned manufactured homes into their borders based on age.
Sen. John Bulloch, sponsor of the bill, said age is not an accurate reflection of the condition of a home.
"A house, if it is looked after, has really an unlimited life," Bulloch said. "You have to paint it, you have to put a new roof on it, you have to replace flooring."
Many counties, including Hall, restrict the movement of
some mobile homes past a certain age.
"Most of them use the age of 10 years, some as much as 15, but they said no manufactured house could be relocated from its existing site if it was more than X years of age," Bulloch said. "I'd hate for somebody to set an age that they felt like I would not be productive."
Hall County Planning Director Randy Knighton said in current county code, any manufactured home more than 7 years old must not only be inspected by the building maintenance department but also seek approval from the Hall County Planning Commission and Board of Commissioners before it can be moved into the county.
Though not all older homes are denied.
"The commission has approved several that have been older than 7 years," Commissioner Steve Gailey said. "We had one come before us about two or three months ago that looked like a brand new home and it was 12 years old."
It is likely that all pre-owned manufactured homes will now go through this process if their owners want to move them.
"We may see a slight increase in the number of evaluations of manufactured homes that come through based on what we've seen in the past," Knighton said. "It may be 15 or 20 more total."
Age is not the only criteria the county uses when considering manufactured homes.
"It's not merely that manufactured homes would be moved in, it's where they would be located," Knighton said. "We would be evaluating the location, the surrounding, the zoning category that they would be moved into ... to ensure compatibility.
"Those factors have always been considered and would continue to be considered."
The county allows manufactured homes in manufactured home parks, agricultural zoning districts and some other rural zoning classifications. They are not permitted to move into residential or vacation cottage zoning districts.
"There are certain zoning districts where they are prohibited now and that will not change," Knighton said.
Gailey, whose district covers more remote areas in north and east Hall, said he would like to propose some additional changes to the county's manufactured homes policy.
Dating back to 2002, no single-wide mobile homes may be moved into the county, unless they are replacing existing single-wides.
"I think we've got too many government rules, too many regulations impending on people's freedom," Gailey said.
"I still think it's discrimination telling people how they can live on their land with the proper zoning. Not everybody can afford a double wide, they're a lot more expensive."
Bulloch said he thinks the new law will help people without taking power away from local governments.
"That gives them total authority on what that house has to meet as far as a standard that doesn't have anything to do with age. I think that's fair," Bulloch said. "This puts
everybody on an even keel."