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Officials grousing over housing

Heidi RiceWestern Garfield County Staff

Officials in both the city of Rifle and the town of Silt are upset and opposed to a bill recently introduced in the state Legislature. The bill seeks to prohibit discrimination against manufactured and factory-built housing.House Bill 1304 was introduced into the House of Representatives on March 3, and was assigned to the Local Governments Committee on Tuesday.The bill “prohibits any local government from enacting, establishing or enforcing any regulation, resolutions, ordinance or other legal requirement that has the effect, directly or indirectly, of discriminating against consumers’ choices in the placement or use of a home in such a manner that the regulation, resolution, ordinance or other legal requirement is not equally applicable to all homes.”The bill does not apply to mobile homes.”What it says is that if a manufactured home meets all the same requirements of all other homes, they should be allowed,” said Rep. Mary Hodge, D-Adams County, who is co-sponsoring the bill with Sen. Lois Trochtop. Hodge is also the chairperson for the Local Governments Committee.The manufactured housing industry has pointed an accusing finger at both communities as two of seven municipalities in the state that have restrictions and laws that discriminate against manufactured housing. Officials from both Rifle and Silt disagree.”The city of Rifle is being held up as a ‘poster child’ for this bill, and we take great offense,” City Manager John Hier wrote in a letter last week to Sen. Jack Taylor, who represents District 3. “Rifle does not discriminate against manufactured housing. There is no known instance of the city denying the placement of manufactured homes.”Rifle Planning Director Matt Sturgeon pointed out that in 2004, the city approved nearly 115 lots in the Pioneer Mesa subdivision west of Rifle off Second Street, to allow manufactured housing as a use-by-right with zoning that permits the commingling of both manufactured and stick-built homes. Manufactured housing is also allowed in other areas of the city through a conditional use permit.”We’re like any other municipality – we allow it as a use-by-right or through a conditional use permit in any residential district,” Sturgeon said.Silt town officials are also outraged at the accusation that it discriminates against manufactured housing and called the rumor a “malicious lie.””We are violating no laws whatsoever,” Silt Town Administrator Rick Aluise said. “We’ve been working for a couple of years on an ordinance that allows modular homes that comply with UBC guidelines. They’re allowed as long as they meet the same architectural designs as stick-built homes. I’ve seen beautiful modular homes – there’s no reason not to allow them. As long as they meet the same controls everyone has to adhere to.”Rifle council members and staff also say the bill is an attempt to infringe on the city’s home rule power.”The proposed bill calls this matter one of statewide significance and threatens to infringe on our home rule powers,” Hier wrote in his letter to Taylor. “The city finds it disenfranchising that the industry would call out Rifle as a culprit and take this matter to the State House before coming before the locally elected city council to voice its concerns. The House and Senate should refuse to entertain bills that undermine local processes that are in place to deal with these type of issues.”Meghan Pfanstiel, executive director of the Colorado Manufactured Housing Association in Denver, says the industry proposed the bill to allow manufactured homes in the same places stick-built homes are constructed, without having to jump through extra hoops to get approved.”It’s important for manufactured homes to fit into the neighborhood, and we can pretty much look like you want us to look,” Pfanstiel said. “A lot of people have outdated perceptions of what manufactured housing is. Rifle and Silt have restrictions and we consider a conditional use permit restrictive.”The Local Government Committee of the House of Representatives will hear testimony from those opposing HB-1304 on March 22 before casting a vote. If the bill fails, the industry has the option of bringing it back at a later date. If passed, it will next be heard on the House floor.Next: A more in-depth look into the manufactured housing industry, why the bill should be passed and a Silt woman’s experience in buying a manufactured home in Rifle.


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