Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

June 26, 2013

Mildred council to discuss mobile home dispute

By Janet Jacobs
Corsicana Daily Sun

Corsicana — The City of Mildred is looking to step up its code enforcement, and that’s not welcomed by some residents.

Elvin Sikes, 30, admitted he didn’t check into the rules of putting a trailer on his grandmother’s land before he did it a month ago, but he certainly didn’t expect the city to send him a letter warning him to remove it again.

“We had some land in Mildred, in the city. I grew up on this land, and went to high school in Mildred on this land,” Sikes explained. “We had a trailer on it. It burned down, and we moved it off. Several years later, we moved another trailer on here.”

As it turns out, the only mobile homes that are allowed in Mildred have to be HUD approved, less than 21 years old, or in trailer parks, and the city’s zoning doesn’t allow any trailer parks, explained Mayor Kyle Carrigan.

This new effort to enforce the city’s zoning and codes is about six to eight months old, but it’s because the city is getting pressure from the state to abide by the rules, Carrigan said.

“The state said if we didn’t start conducting code and ordinances the state could come in and pull the permit as far as the city being a city,” Carrigan said. “I’m new at this. I had to call an outside agency that does code and ordinances.”

For Mildred, this means that any possible violations of codes are turned over to the consultant, who then goes out to meet with the residents and tries to get compliance. If that doesn’t work then it’s turned over to the city’s lawyers, who send a letter, similar to the one that Elvin Sikes got. It’s not personal, it’s just the new reality, the mayor said.

“A lot of this has blown up overnight because for years nobody’s been focused on code and ordinances in recent years,” Carrigan said. “We’re not pinpointing different people or trailer houses.”

Sikes said he knows of other trailer homes in the area, although he admits his may be a more rough example of a manufactured home.

“It was real convenient. It’s a good way to get back on our feet,” Sikes said. “It’s not a great place. It’s not a brand-new trailer. I think it’s just a big eyesore for the whole community and I’m catching a lot of flack on it.”

Sikes is unemployed and the father of four children who claims he’s here looking for a fresh start.

“Even if I am wrong, this is America. You can’t fault me for wanting to better my family,” Sikes added. “It’s just stressful. It’s overwhelming.”

Nor is Sikes alone. Mildred has plenty of trailer homes, but because the code enforcement is so relatively recent, only those that are newest to the city are being targeted.

That includes Amanda Rogers, 25, and Dustin Allred, 28, who are raising five kids, three of them their own. When the young couple took in her niece and nephew, they were given another trailer home to add to the single-wide where they were already living. City officials warned them about the ordinances back in March when they put the new trailer in place, and after working with the city on and off for a bit trying to get a Specific Use Permit, or an exemption, they ended up getting one of the “move it” letters last week. They were given 10 days to get rid of the second trailer.

“We’ve done everything they’ve asked us to,” Amanda said. “I understand there’s a process, but we were told one thing then they changed it, then all of a sudden I’m getting a letter saying you’ve got to move your home within 10 days?”

And that may not be the final word. The next city council meeting will take place on July 1, and on the agenda is the item “Amanda Rogers/Dustin Allred mobile home — does it need to be moved.”

That same agenda also includes making Buddy Markham the city’s code enforcement officer, setting a workshop date to update the code of ordinances, talking to a consultant about annexation and mapping needs for the city, and considering code updates recommended by the North Central Texas Council of Governments for buildings, fire, plumbing, mechanical, energy conservation, electricity and more.

Richard Arnett, owner of the Trading Post, has taken up the Allred’s cause. He’s been to various city council meetings, and he’s hired a lawyer to gather the information needed to challenge the city’s stance on the Allred’s case. He believes the council never voted to authorize the letters.

“They never discussed or voted on sending this to an attorney in April, May or June,” he argued.

It was Arnett who began outlining the Allred’s problems online.

“Facebook is not the place to fix an issue, but it’s awareness,” Arnett said.

Sikes also took his story to Facebook.

“I shared my story on Facebook hoping to get sympathy, like maybe (the city) would get off my back a little bit about it,” he said.

The mayor didn’t appreciate the online appeal.

“The past mayors and city council people haven’t acted on this and I’m getting the brunt force of all this,” Carrigan said. “If they want to get somebody else (to be mayor) that’s fine, but (the next mayor) is going to have to do the same thing.”

Carrigan said he believes the developments along U.S. 287 are opening doors for expansion into Mildred, and the city needs to be in a position to capitalize on that when it happens. He also said he’s concerned about if Mildred loses its home-rule status that Corsicana might decide to annex the area.

“A lot of things are going to start happening here, and if somebody doesn’t start enforcing the laws and ordinances in these small towns the cities aren’t going to survive,” he said. “I’m just trying to help them out.”

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Janet Jacobs may be reached via email at jjacobs@corsicanadailysun.com. Want to “soundoff” to this article? Email: Soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com