Zoning Changes Leave Hancock County Resident Homeless

Should the government be able to tell you that your home , isn't good enough? That's exactly what Kenneth Rothwell says is happening to him.

The Hancock County man was left without a place to live, ironically after he tried to improve his living conditions. County zoning changes made seven years ago have now left Rothwell homeless.

"We worked 17 years real hard just to have something nice but our something that was nice to us didn't meet up to someone else's standards," Rothwell said.

Kenneth Rothwell knew it was time to replace his 1960's model mobile home, so he had it moved off his property last week. He replaced it with a newer 1970's model.

"I was told I couldn't keep the new one and I couldn't bring the old one back on the property, that they had rezoned this area. This is what they left me and my wife with an empty piece of property and no where to live," Rothwell said.

In 1997, Hancock County leaders put in zoning laws, banning mobile homes in several areas of the county, primarily areas near more expensive homes. The zoning changes were big news when they happened.

"I was told they run an ad in the paper. I don't get a newspaper here."

"By law we have to advertise and we have to have a public hearing now I know back in 97 when zoning was enacted there were numerous public hearings and anybody should be able to got back and look in the archives and show how much publicity there was," Hancock County building official Mickey Lagasse stated.

The county building official says not knowing the law is no excuse, but that was seven years ago.

Twenty percent of Hancock County residents live in mobile homes, and Rothwell says there should be a better way to inform the public of changes.

"If I'd been notified this would have never happened with all the taxes that we pay in this county they can't send out a 2 cent flyer to inform the people. This is my land I own this I'm the one that slaved and sweated and went without to pay for it to have a place to live and then to be told what I can and can't do on my own property here in America is just unbelievable."

Rothwell's fight isn't over. He has a few options. He can ask for a special exception from county planners. If that fails, he can appeal to County Supervisors, or if Supervisors say no, he can take the matter to court.

It may sound strange, but if Kenneth Rothwell had left his old mobile home on the land there would have been no problem. It had been grand fathered in when the new ordinance took effect.

By: Al Showers