Hancock County Man Fights Zoning Battle

A Hancock County man who wants to replace his old mobile home with a new one is caught in the middle of a zoning battle.

He lives in the Bayside Park community about a mile West of Waveland off of Highway 90. A ban on new mobile homes in that area is causing a dilemma for him and his family.

Frederick Rothwell wants to replace his 36 year old mobile home with a brand new double wide.

"Once the skirt is set up, people driving by would never know it's a mobile home because it's just a little square home."

But Rothwell says a new zoning change is standing in the way of his home improvement project.

"The zoning has been changed in that area and there are no more replacement mobile homes unless the damage has been caused by natural causes, flood tornadoes fire by lighting," Hancock County Building Official Mickey LaGasse said.

He says when county leaders adopted its zoning ordinance in 1997, mobile homes were allowed in the area. Two years ago the ordinance was amended to ban any new mobile homes from rolling into the community.

Rothwell disagrees with that decision.

"They are trying to clean up Bayside Park, I understand that, but I don't approve of the way that they're doing it. They're just condemning everybody who has these older mobile homes to live in them until they either fall apart or until they die."

Rothwell, who is a disabled veteran, says he did everything zoning workers told him to do in hopes of falling under a grandfather clause.

"They told us to go ahead and get photo overlays to prove the trailer was here before 1997, which we did. It proved it was here back in April of 94."

But Rothwell says during the process, no one ever told him the zoning change would not include a grandfather clause.

"'Grand fathering' is a term that was very widely used in a lot of things and it's just not so anymore. If they continue to allow mobile homes, there will always be mobile homes in that area," LaGasse said.

Rothwell says since he began the process to move a new mobile home in before the last zoning change, he should be allowed to upgrade his standard of living.

Last week, Planning and Zoning Commissioners denied Rothwell a special exception to the county's zoning ordinance. Rothwell has appealed that decision to the Hancock County Board of Supervisors. No word on when Board members will rule on the issue.

by Al Showers