EDWARDSVILLE — A change to Madison County’s zoning ordinance regarding mobile homes ran into opposition at the County Board meeting Wednesday.
Republican board members Judy Kuhn of Trenton, Roger Alons of Troy, Michael “Mick” Madison of Bethalto, Michael J. Walters of Godfrey, Thomas K. McRae of Bethalto and Lisa Ciampoli of Collinsville voted against changing the ordinance to require that special-use permits for mobile homes in unincorporated areas list the tenant and owner. Special-use permits are required when placing a new home or changing the ownership or occupancy of an existing home.
Dillon Smith, the trustee for an 89-year-old woman who sought a special-use permit so she could rent her mobile home after she moved out, spoke in opposition to the change. Smith challenged the county over including tenants’ names in the legal publication process when that requirement wasn’t written into the ordinance. The change on Wednesday was partly a response to Smith’s legal challenge.
Cynthia Shriver of the Metro East Real Estate Association and Lewis Simpson of the Granite City Landlord Association also addressed the board in opposition to the ordinance change.
“No prospective tenant would subject themselves to such a procedure,” Simpson said. “What does who lives in a home have to do with zoning?”
At the Jan. 20 meeting, the board rejected the special-use permit for the woman’s mobile home in the 6000 block of Old Carpenter Road west of Hamel. Neighbors presented a petition, signed by 30 residents, in opposition to the permit, according to county records.
In his testimony to the Zoning Board of Appeals, Smith said he believed neighbors opposed the permit because a black family was going to move into the home. Neighbors said their opposition was not motivated by prejudice but by the home’s continued presence jeopardizing property values.
In its recommendation to deny the special-use permit, the Board of Appeals stated that the permit had “outlived its original intent,” which was to allow the woman to live in the home.
Ciampoli said she disagreed with publishing tenants’ names.
“I don’t see that we have any right to do that to a renter,” she said.
Planning and Development Administrator Matt Brandmeyer said publishing occupants’ names is a long-standing practice the ordinance change codifies. The reason to publish their names is to maximize accountability, he said.
“We ascribe the special-use permits to specific users, which means the tenant, regardless of the owner, and as a result we publish their name in the paper as part of the notification requirement,” he said in an interview after the meeting.
The change only applies to mobile homes outside of mobile home parks. Brandmeyer estimated the special-use permit application process for mobile homes applies to five people per year.
Resolution supports East Alton power plant
The board approved a resolution calling for federal agencies and lawmakers to correct imbalances in the energy market. Dynegy Inc. has announced plans to close its coal-fired power plant in East Alton by June 1, citing the ability of regulated plants in northern Illinois and other states to underbid plants in non-regulated areas.
The plant has a $12 million payroll and generates $1.5 million in property taxes for local governments.
County Board member Thomas K. McRae of Bethalto said he’s talked to U.S. Reps. John Shimkus and Mike Bost about the importance of keeping the plant open.
“We’re trying to draw attention to it,” McRae said. “If there’s anything federal legislators can do, we need to get it done before they close in June.”
“I think it’s going to be hard because of the deregulation that we have in this area, but we’re certainly going to try,” Madison County Board Chairman Alan Dunstan said. “We’d like to see if there’s anything that can be done to help the employees and keep that in Madison County.”
“We’re fighting an uphill battle, for sure,” McRae said.