By Luke Britt/Editor
The Town of Bernice is taking the steps to correct a deficiency in its zoning ordinances that has resulted in a proliferation of mobile homes being installed “wherever one will fit,” town attorney Joe Cusimano said when the Town Council met on Tuesday.
“The way the ordinances work now, people can put mobile homes in any residential zone and the town can’t doing anything about it,” Cusimano said.
According to Cusimano, when Bernice’s zoning ordinances were crafted in the 1980s by the North Delta Regional Planning and Development District, they failed to adequately define where mobile homes could and could not be placed and also failed to give the town sufficient authority to prevent mobile homes from being installed in places where their presence could negatively impact the property values of surrounding homes.
Like most communities, Bernice’s ordinances define an R1 zone for single family homes and an R2 zone for multifamily housing, but they do not prohibit the installation of mobile homes in either of those zones.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the council agreed that each council member will survey their own districts to identify where mobile homes are located. The Council will then attempt to identify areas that can be zoned for mobile homes without causing undue harm to the value of nearby properties.
The new ordinances will establish a zone for mobile homes and restrict the placement of new mobile homes in the town’s R1 and R2 zones. The new ordinances will likely create an appeal process that residents can use to request an exception to the prohibition, Cusimano said. The new ordinances should also give the town authority to enforce minimum standards for condition and appearance, he said.
“The town isn’t going to make people remove the mobile homes that are already there, of course,” Cusimano said, “but they need to control where they are placed in the future.”
Over time the number of mobile homes in the R1 and R2 zones will diminish, and property values should improve, he said.
In other business on Tuesday, the Council also voted to accept a bid from a Ruston security firm to install security cameras in the downtown area and also accepted a bid to begin installing new chlorination systems on the town’s six water wells.
ProVision Security was awarded the $12,699 contract to install 22 security cameras throughout the downtown area. Cameras will be installed in both the interior and exterior of several public buildings.
The Council also awarded a $20,367 contract to KWW Water Works to begin installing chlorination systems in each of the town’s six water wells.
The Council also announced Tuesday that the town is partnering with Reeves Memorial Medical Center to host a health and welfare fair at Depot Park from 10 a.m. to noon on Sept. 16.