Citizen confronts council about zoning ordinance
by Jennifer Cohron
Jun 11, 2014 | 2539 views | 0 0 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mayor Drew Gilbert
Mayor Drew Gilbert
slideshow
CORDOVA — A Cordova citizen opposed to the city’s 2008 zoning ordinance that restricts the placement of mobile homes spoke out again at Tuesday night’s council meeting.

“This is the last time I will ever come down here to an open meeting and discuss this with you. The next time will be in a courtroom,” Martha Stidham said in her opening remarks.

Stidham first confronted Mayor Drew Gilbert and council member Warren Branch about a trailer that was recently moved into District 1.

Gilbert clarified that the homeowner in that case went before the Cordova Planning and Zoning Commission and received a waiver that was later approved by the council.

“Within the law, there is a waiver process. Through the legal process of that ordinance, they did exactly what they needed to do within the bounds of the law, and we granted that waiver,” Gilbert said.

Stidham said the ordinance is preventing her from placing a mobile home on property that she had cleaned so that her daughter would have a place to live. She also paid for a dilapidated mobile home already on the site to be torn down and hauled away.

Stidham has appeared before the Planning Commission without favorable results.

Gilbert questioned whether Stidham requested a waiver or asked for the repeal of the ordinance.

“A case by case request for a waiver is completely different from a request that the law be thrown out, and that has been your tone in the past,” Gilbert said.

Stidham, who previously asked that the council consider amending the ordinance to allow single-wide mobile homes, said she was unwilling to pursue a course of action if she was the only beneficiary.

“A waiver would benefit me. It really would, but it wouldn’t benefit all of these people, voters, who have signed petitions to fight this. They think it’s very unfair. They think it discriminates against the poor, and it does,” Stidham said.

Gilbert disagreed with the conclusion.

“You have just told me that based on census data, the majority of Cordova would be considered poor by poverty standards. The majority of Cordova is obviously living somewhere in Cordova currently, so how are they discriminated against? They have obviously found housing,” he said.

Stidham said some residents have left the city because they could not put a single-wide mobile home on their property.

Stidham added that she agreed with setting standards to prevent blight but also urged the council to consider the needs of constituents.

“I would like for y’all to consider a way of amending this law so that it could be handled in-house without having to go outside this room. There has to be a way that we can come together and do that for the people. If we can’t, they’re going to fight back,” Stidham said.

Several council members countered Stidham’s claims of how many Cordova residents oppose the restrictions on mobile homes.

“The feeling in my district is not that same feeling,” said Lauren Vance, the representative for District 7.

“My district is the same way,” said mayor pro temp Ed Earp.

“Mine too,” Bradley Grace replied.

In other action from the meeting, Gilbert informed the council that construction of the grocery store is proceeding as planned. Also, site prep for the City Hall and police station project should begin in July.

Preliminary design plans are in for the new fire station, which will be housed in a reconverted private residence. City officials are still awaiting word on cost estimates.