COOPER — What exactly is the difference between a mobile and a manufactured home?
Debate on the answer made up the bulk of Cooper’s latest City Council meeting and what, if anything, city officials should do. Ultimately, the decision was made to change a longstanding city law.
In the 1970s, Cooper passed a law disallowing mobile homes from being brought into town without written consent from neighbors within 200 feet. It’s a statute hindering Cooper resident Patrick Williams, his wife and two children from owning their own home — a manufactured home that ultimately will be a pier-and-beam structure, not a trailer on wheels that can be somewhat easily moved.
“I just hope some kind of changes are done,” Williams told the council.
The couple has received 12 of the 14 signatures required by law for him to place a mobile home on his lot that’s inside city limits. To get those signatures required a trip to Dallas, but now he’s hit a snag — one neighboring property owner is dead with no next of kin to sign in their place, and a neighbor who refuses to sign because she worries her property values will go down.
“She’s done raised her family,” Williams said. “This is our first home, and I have two small boys.
“She’s told several people she had no problem signing it if we sell her house for her.”
Williams argued to the council the existing law is unfair because as written, homes in Cooper must be built on site or else it’s considered a mobile home, which then enacts the signature requirement.
Williams said he looked to similar statutes in other cities, including Paris, which requires council approval for a mobile or manufacture home placement. Other cities don’t allow them at all.
Councilman Allen Foster said he didn’t like the idea that one holdout should stop a new home in Cooper.
“With just one person stopping this, I don’t think it’s right,” he said. “I still see giving citizens a voice, but just one person shooting it down? No.”
After some back and forth initiated by Mayor Darren Braddy, the council agreed to have city attorney Edgar J. Garrett come up with an amendment allowing would-be mobile or manufactured homeowners to present a percentage majority of signatures, which can be brought to the council who may opt to allow the home. They also agreed to ask the attorney to develop a new allowance for homes with certain types of foundations. The issue was then tabled for the night.
Also on Monday, the council approved lighting and sound improvements to the pagoda on the square, paid for by the city’s economic development corporation, and waiving tap fees and water, sewer and waste fees for a year for AWP should they decide to come to Cooper. AWP, a flagging company for road crews, Braddy said, has outgrown its Sulphur Springs business and is looking to possibly move its office to Cooper.