Monona Council discusses mobile homes

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By Audrey Posten, Times-Register


The Monona City Council is open to allowing placement of a mobile home on a vacant lot in the community, but only on a case-by-case basis.


City administrator Barb Collins, speaking at the Sept. 5 regular meeting, said she was approached by a property owner who would like to put a 1997 mobile home on a lot at Hill and First streets. With dimensions of only 65 feet by 138 feet, nothing else can feasibly be built or placed on the lot due to setbacks, she explained.


“The owner doesn’t own the land around it, so he can’t even put a shed on it,” Collins said. “There’s no way to get more property tax off it. It will sit there.”


Monona’s current ordinance does not allow mobile homes within city limits.


Council member Bridget Schlein was hesitant to change that now.


“We have one trailer house left in town. This isn’t a trailer park. If you allow it once, then you have to start allowing it,” she said. “I’m worried about the precedence, and while this one might be very well maintained, once this person leaves, what will happen then?”


“But that’s with any house,” noted council member Andrew Meyer. “This one here looks pretty well maintained. There’s uglier things in town.”


Mayor Grant Langhus advocated for a structure like a tiny home instead. He said he’s been investigating the idea, even discussing it with a local developer.


“They said they may have an appetite for that kind of thing, potentially,” he told the council.


Langhus envisions a tiny home as 800 to 1,000 square feet, with living space above a one-stall garage. The building would be a little more upscale, he said, and geared toward younger people.


“Something you’d flip every three to four years. Because we don’t have rentals in town, that’s the kind of thing somebody could buy,” he explained.


Langhus said Monona’s tax revenue per home is higher than surrounding towns, a statistic “you can kind of equate as a nicer community.”


“Maybe we don’t have the struggles other communities have because of the type of housing we’ve required. You’d hate to go backward,” he added.


Meyer proposed considering mobile homes on a case-by-case basis.


“One lot at a time and we change it as we see fit. There aren’t that many lots like this in town, really tiny ones,” he said. “Keep your flood gates closed then.”


Collins said the city can dictate the age and looks of the mobile home, and that it be placed on a cement pad. A section of ordinance currently addresses “mobile homes disassembled,” meaning everything from the mobile home has been removed from the undercarriage so it cannot be towed down the street—it becomes a permanent fixture.


The council was amenable to the idea, with Meyer, Schlein, Preston Landt and Tim Wright moving to bring the item to the zoning board of adjustment for further consideration. That process will involve a public hearing, during which neighbors or other residents can speak on the issue, said Collins. An OK from the zoning board of adjustment would send it back to the council.


“This is a major change, something we don’t allow at all. You guys would have to change our ordinance to allow it. We could change it for this lot specifically,” she said.”


The Oct. 23 regular meeting is likely the earliest that would happen.

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