City unfairly prohibits industrialized housing
Recently, my husband and I packed up our four children and took them to the Gainesville City Council meeting to observe our government at work. We also went to voice our opinion regarding the city's disregard of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs Industrialized Housing Act (

This law was enacted to prohibit industrialized home builders from being discriminated against. It excludes manufactured (mobile) homes, which are regulated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

In my statement, I recognized the importance of upholding our ordinances to preserve the city's future. I also mentioned that there is a delicate balance between protecting residential neighborhoods while attracting businesses and industry.

I hold a master of science in housing and consumer economics from the University of Georgia and know the differences between manufactured, modular and "stick-built" homes. The "modular home" the city stopped in Water's Edge subdivision is beautiful. Have council members actually visited the site? I found a beautiful home complete with a basement, tremendous square footage, dormer windows and a shingled roof. The craftsmanship of the molding and cabinetry work was exquisite.

Modular homes have been around for nearly 100 years. Former President Jimmy Carter grew up in a Sears and Roebuck modular house brought in by train. Many celebrities, such as Dale Earnhardt Jr., Shaquille O'Neal and others, live in industralized homes. CNN, Clark Howard and Bob Villa have featured specials on modular-built homes.

Industrialized housing offers an affordable option. There are fewer weather delays, less time spent juggling contractors, and homes often are built better, since work must meet standards before shipment.

Once the modules are set, more inspections are required before the Certificate of Occupancy is issued. Not only do industrialized homes often exceed code, they have been documented to better withstand wind damage from hurricanes, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

These facts were presented to the Council by industry experts Steve Snyder of the Modular Building Association in Washington, D.C., and Bob Warren of Home Funding. Yet not one council member asked a question.

At the meeting, Grant Smereczynsky pointed out that when applying for a building permit in Gainesville, there are two options: manufactured home or single-family residential home. Other governments have a box for "industrialized housing," even Hall County. Why is it different in the city? In 2001, this was challenged with many of the same building and planning officials. The outcome: there's now a box and the law was rewritten to comply with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

After researching the Web site, I found a letter dated March 31 from Commissioner Mike Beatty, Department of Community Affairs, sent to Mayor George Wangemann and each council member. It stated that industrialized housing does not follow the same HUD codes as manufactured housing, and it is a violation for local governments to restrict industrialized building from a zoning district based solely on the fact that it is not built "on site."

If they want to enforce the code to the "nth" degree, how can our builders even use pre-fab trusses in home construction?

Is there some reason the city councilmen find it fair to place a financial burden on Building Systems Network, a small family based business, and jeopardize the city funding for more affordable housing?

Sandra Cantrell - Gainesville

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