Larry Stanford Editor
December 28, 2013
A Thomaston resident is finding out the hard way that a storage building can’t be mobile. Tommy Dudley of Dudley’s Body Shop and Wrecker Service came before the Thomaston City Council at their December 17 meeting with a concern about a trailer he wanted to put behind his house at 118 Olympia Drive.
Dudley, a native of Thomaston, has lived at that residence for 15 years. He said he wanted to put a storage building in the woods behind his pool, and bought a 14x45 trailer, about the size of a mobile office. Dudley said he asked Code Enforcement Officer Bobby Ellington if there was a law or zoning against putting the storage trailer behind his house, and Ellington said he didn’t know of one. He also asked Ellington if he needed a permit, and was told no.
But Dudley decided to get a permit anyway, and went to the Zoning Board.
“I had to show drawings of the building, where I was going to put it at, had to do the foundation, it was all passed.,” Dudley said, and he received his permit.
But about a week after he moved the trailer in, Ellington came out and said one of his neighbors had called City Hall and was complaining about the structure being there. When Dudley told Ellington he had a permit and asked why he had to move it, he said Ellington got a book out and showed him where it said no mobile homes are permitted in the City of Thomaston.
“He told me I had to have it moved, or in a week I would get a ticket. So I had to move it out of there.” “If that’s the law, it’s the law,” said Dudley, who then questioned what constituted a storage shed and why other trailers were allowed inside city limits.
“On Long Street, the Tax Central trailer was put there six or seven years ago. I don’t know the guy that owns Tax Central, don’t have a thing in the world against him, that’s his land, he pays property tax, he can do what he wants to do with it. But if they are going to let one person do it, then it should be for others, not just because one particular neighbor complained. “
City Attorney Joel Bentley said Dudley was in an unfortunate position.
“It is unfortunate that someone gave you a building permit without reviewing the code ordinances to determine whether or not the trailer that was moved in was permitted in the city. Those are two separate issues,” Bentley told Dudley. “The code is very specific about mobile homes, and I understand from your view it is not a home. It also prohibits certain mobile offices, which you just described it as. For purposes of answering your question, if you go out to Home Depot, you will see very large storage buildings that are moved on top of a flat-bed trailer and put on a foundation. They may or may not be wired or plumbed. The travel trailer or mobile office you moved in was previously wired, it had an HVAC on it, had the tongue on it, still had the wheels on it, and was placed where it was, and we have the photos, with rocks behind them to keep from moving it.
“I didn’t see how it was moved, so I can’t say, but it should at least have had a temporary tag and possibly a title on it. If that vehicle has any form of title, then by definition it is a motor vehicle, just like any manufactured home that has a title is a motor vehicle. You would not obtain a title for a storage building that you purchased from a third party vendor. That was the issue.
“As far as other trailers that are present, I’m happy to sit down with you and meet with you and go through the various code sections about what is and is not permitted about manufactured housing in the city,” added Bentley. ”If you have any information about other buildings, by all means, bring it to my attention, bring it to Mr. Irvin’s , the solicitor’s attention, or the Chief of Police. If you’re aware of violations, then, of course, we want to know about them.
“It is important for the community to police itself as close as possible. Mr. Ellington, our Code Enforcement Officer, can’t be everywhere all the time.”