By Michelle Vineyard
The September meeting of the Kerens City Council was heated. There was a public hearing regarding the application for approval: MH1 manufactured housing district for the new housing development by OctaHomes, Richland Gardens. Palm Harbor homes representatives were on hand to discuss the details of the proposed development, as the preferred supplier for the new development. The new development aims to challenge outdated thoughts of mobile home parks, and will feature:
- 154 single wide homes- with lot restrictions
- 3000 sq ft clubhouse with ball court, swimming pool, bbq areas and pool tables
When asked how will this be advantageous, the Richland Gardens Developers replied that this community will provide affordable resort style living. The community will bring more business and traffic to the Kerens area. Their aim is to be the “best mobile home community located an hour from Dallas”. They plan to ensure quality maintenance with new age manufactured homes and an HOA to guarantee the integrity of their development is kept up. They also plan to utilize as many local vendors as possible to get the most of their estimated $6 million investment.
The meeting turned contentious during the public comments as locals voiced both their disproval and support- Norman and Gail smith, proud 42 year citizens of Kerens, opposed the zoning change, due to it being near their property. They insist that they have no hard feelings towards mobile homes and the occupants but voiced their concerns over a lack of adequate water pressure in the area. They stated that they cannot shower while running dishwasher. They cited concerns over a lack of water pressure to support the fire department in the event of a fire. Mrs. Smith referenced a home that burned in Kerens on New Years Eve this past year, where the pressure was not adequate from the hydrant to contain the fire. She also mentioned a concern of there being only one operational water tower in the town. There are also concerns over home values declining due to a mobile home park being next to it,
Kim Latta, owner of the Blue Onion Antique Shop, which will be located next-door to the community, echoed concerns about the water pressure and lack of infrastructure to support homes close to each other in the event of a fire, she also voiced worry about theft from her business right next to it.
Kerens Mayor Jefferey Saunders mentioned that a grant is being approved for the water tower in December, which has been in the works for the past 4 years. Once approved, it will take approximately 3-4 months to have it repaired, and cost around $350,000. Meeting attendees were reminded that there is near non-existent tax base in the city, resulting in limited funding to fix the streets and make other needed improvements.
The council was allowed to discuss and consider the zoning change after hearing comments from local residents by way of letters of response that were sent out to residents within 200 feet of the proposed development. Of the letters that were returned to the council there were 5 no’s and 3 yeses. The motion was passed by a 3- 2 vote. Mayor Saunders stressed the importance of bringing in new people, and the potential for new economic growth in the city. He referenced the number of houses that have been demolished in recent years, the dilapidated state of many homes currently in the area, and an overall lack of interest in new construction from investors.