More than 250 mobile homes will be available to rent soon in Spring Lake, after the Board of Aldermen on Monday approved a rezoning request.
In a 4-1 vote, the board rezoned 5.67 acres on Dacha Lane from R5A residential district to R6A more restrictive residential district to accommodate additional mobile homes.
Time Out Communities, a Florida-based company that manages mobile home parks, has proposed putting 288 new mobile homes in a vacant park on Dacha Lane. The land, which people now use as a trash dumping ground, has been empty since Hurricane Matthew, according to attorney Richard Fox.
“This is all done by Time Out Communities for the betterment of the community,” Fox said.
Last week, the Cumberland County Joint Planning Board recommended approval of the rezoning request in a 4-3 vote. Annette Massari, senior planner of Cumberland County, said that there were concerns about this request because “mobile home development was not something the town wanted to prioritize.”
Fox replied that concerns about aesthetics were unfounded, since the homes by Time Out Communities would be newly built in 2023 with “modern, upscale” amenities. “These defy that stereotype,” he said.
The Florida company is planning to invest more than $6.2 million in the mobile home park — without using Spring Lake tax dollars, according to Fox. This will include 24-hour security patrols and potentially a gate.
The monthly rent for mobile homes with two-, three- and four-bedrooms would cost at least $550, according to the Time Out Communities website.
While there were concerns about a mobile home park in general, the rezoning request was only for 5 acres out of the 32-acre lot. Fox said that about 240 mobile homes were coming to Spring Lake regardless of the vote on Monday. The board was just deciding if the park would have an additional 40 homes.
“If this rezoning doesn’t happen, it’s not the end of the world,” Fox said. “But it is a waste of income for the community.”
Fox added that the additional 40 homes would boost retail in the town and increase the tax base.
In addition, the town had already spent tax dollars constructing water and sewer lines on Ducha Lane, which the current property owner Kenneth Smith said would be “money spent down there that you’re not getting money back on.” The property has been on the market for years.
Fox did not say when the company expected the homes to be ready for occupants. He gave the board documents with additional information on the proposed development, which he did not hand out to members of the public.
Alderman Raul Palacios said it was “refreshing” to see new development. He made a motion to approve the rezoning request, with Robyn Chadwick, Sona Cooper and Adrian Jones Thompson supporting and Marvin Lackman opposing.
More apartments in the works
The board also approved rezoning 2 acres on Shell Drive from commercial to residential to allow for a future apartment complex. The property is currently vacant.
The complex will be an expansion of Waterford Apartments, also located on Shell Drive. A one- to two-bedroom apartment costs between $1,210 and $1,540 per month, according to its website.
"It's a nice little development out there," Palacios said.
The rezoning goes against the town's land use plan, which calls for light industrial in that area. However, Massari said that planning staff can update the map to reflect that change.
The 2-acre lot is adjacent to a residential area, which is why the joint planning board unanimously recommended its approval, which the Spring Lake board did.
New interim town manager
In addition, the board officially hired Joe Durham as interim town manager.
This approval was a last-minute addition to the agenda. The agreement, which Palacios said was dated April 18, was not included in the background information before the meeting.
The board swore Durham into office on March 28.
On April 5, the state Local Government Commission, which took over the town's finances in October, said that the board dismissed an interim town manager and swore in a new interim manager without taking a public vote on either. The LGC also said that the board swore Durham in without a contract in place.
On April 12, Mayor Kia Anthony responded with a letter that said the board had not officially hired Joe Durham as interim town manager because the contract had to be approved by the commission. She also said that the previous interim town manager resigned and that the manager's contract was ended by the Mid-Carolina Council of Governments.
The board on Monday said the LGC had consented to the agreement with Durham.
In other news from the meeting, the board:
Reporter Ivey Schofield can be reached at email@example.com.