Responding to a change in state law enacted in late 2015, the Town of Torrey is altering its building codes regarding manufactured homes.
Passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in Nov. 2015, the new article added to existing law states, “... manufactured homes that meet identical development specification and standards as those used as single family-dwelling units in residential districts, including aesthetic and architectural standards, which apply to single family residential dwellings within a municipal residential district shall be deemed in conformance with the local zoning code as a single family residence. Similarly, the development of new manufactured home parks or the expansion of existing manufactured home parks shall also be deemed in compliance with local zoning restrictions which would be applicable to compliant single family free standing dwelling developments.”
The justification for this change is primarily to warn towns against economic discrimination in their local laws:
“Frequently, local governments make no provision for manufactured housing in their zoning regulations or enact regulations designed to exclude this type of housing. During the past decade the improved design, appearance, and significant technological advances of manufactured housing have made it equivalent to conventional, site-built, single-family dwellings. This statute, which is modeled after one advocated by the American Bar Association, is predicated on the belief that manufactured housing provides homeowners with an affordable source of decent, safe, and sanitary housing on a permanent basis and that the state should promote its utilization to provide housing opportunities for persons with low, moderate, and fixed incomes. Given the growing disparity between the demand for housing and the ability to produce housing at an affordable price, there exists a need for state-enabling legislation such as this bill to oversee local government regulation of manufactured housing.”
Torrey Code Enforcement Officer Dwight James learned of the change from Milo’s Code Officer, Anthony Validzic, who had learned of it at a local government workshop in Batavia in November 2016. There, Natasha E. Phillip, an attorney for the Department of State outlined the specific changes in the state law.
1. “Manufactured home” shall have the same meaning as provided in subdivision seven of section six hundred one of this article.
2. “Identical development specifications and standards” includes access, building setback distance, enclosures and vehicle parking space.
3. “Single-family dwelling” shall mean a building designed as a one-family residence and used or occupied, or intended to be used or occupied as the home or residence of one or more persons maintaining a household.
Validzic says that once outlined, Phillip was assailed with loud comments and questions from many of the town officials in the audience. “Basically, all this means is that any manufactured homes built to HUD (federal Housing and Urban Development) standards, have to be treated like any other single family dwelling,” says Validzic. Towns can only restrict based on requirements such as minimum square footage.
Once made aware of the changes and reviewing their existing code, Torrey Planning Board Chairman David Granzin wrote to the Town Board recommending the following requirements be cut:
• Have a minimum building width of 24 feet and consist of at least two fully enclosed attached parallel sections, each of which is not less than 12 feet wide by 30 feet long;
• Not be designed and built as a single-wide joined in any fashion;
• Include a porch or deck for every exterior entrance door;
• Have exterior siding similar in appearance to siding material commonly used on conventionally built housing.
All the other requirements regarding foundations, connection to the ground, skirting, and uses remain in place in Torrey’s code.
While Milo does allow single-wide manufactured homes and has multiple “parks” for them, it is unknown how many other municipalities in Yates County have codes similar to the ones Torrey has just struck down.