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Homes, homes on the range …

Manufactured homes might be mobile, but once in place, getting rid of one can be difficult.It used to be easy to move a manufactured home into eastern El Paso County, which could be the reason they are plentiful.Until 2003, no permit was required to put a mobile home on a property in eastern El Paso County, said Peggy Winters, who tracks the movement of mobile and manufactured homes for the county assessor’s office.”Now, you’re required to get a moving permit to move a manufactured home to the site, as well as a building permit from the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department to do a temporary set, where it’s strapped down, or a permanent set on a concrete perimeter,” Winters said.In 2005, the El Paso County Board of Commissioners deemed as unsafe any mobile home not built to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 1976 safety standards.The BOCC’s decision made it illegal to install or relocate in El Paso County a mobile home built before 1976.At the time, as reported in an article in The Gazette Dec. 11, 2005, Commissioner Dennis Hisey said he’d heard developers were dumping pre-1976 mobile homes in El Paso County in response to restrictions on them imposed by most other Front Range counties.The decision narrowed the choices for getting rid of a mobile home: Leave it, demolish it, haul it to a county or state that will accept it or take it to the dump.A couple of years ago, Kathy Hare sent her manufactured home to the dump.”It cost $4,000 to take it to a dump in Pueblo County, and it would have cost $1,000 more to take to a dump in El Paso County,” Hare said.She hired Dennie Murr, a professional mobile home mover, to do the moving.Murr said about 20 percent of the homes he moves go to a landfill.”I used to take them to a landfill in Pueblo where they’d tear them apart and turn the steel in for scrap. My fee was real cheap because they were reclaiming them, but that landfill went under,” Murr said. “When it reopened under new management, they stopped reclaiming them.”Now Murr takes mobile homes to the Waste Connections landfill in Fountain, where they don’t get reclaimed, either.”They just smash them. It’s just another pile of trash to them,” he said.Winters said Huerfano County in Colorado still accepts mobile homes built before 1976, and Murr said he sometimes moves a livable pre-1976 mobile home to towns outside El Paso County, where it’s legal to set them.Murr said there are many abandoned mobile homes in the county.”A lot of people just walk away. They’re older homes of no value to anybody, so they’re not trying to sell them,” he said. “They don’t want to get stuck with the cost of trying to get rid of them.”Before there were any laws, people would set up mobile homes and just have their family members move in, or people just hauled them in because they wanted to use them as pig or goat barns. Some were lived in and then abandoned.”Winters said she uses permits to track the movement of mobile homes in the county.”When they move them around without any type of permit and pull them into nooks and crannies, you can’t see them from the road,” she said. “Unless I’m there for another purpose, we never know they’re there.”Winters said if a mobile home is going to be moved onto a property and used for storage, it won’t be taxed, but the county asks that the kitchen be removed.”I can usually tell the kitchen’s been removed because when I drive by I can see they don’t have it hooked up to electricity,” she said. “We’re hoping they’re using it as a shed and not living in it. But I’ve seen people live in homes without water or utilities.”El Paso County Board of Health regulations require that properties inhabited by people have an onsite wastewater system, but there’s no requirement to have a well.”That’s because a lot of people haul their water and store it in a cistern,” Winters said.The county has two options for dealing with housing in bad repair or abandoned, said Terry Rorick, the county’s code enforcer.”One is the rubbish ordinance. If I get a complaint on a mobile where the side’s coming off, insulation’s blowing, the roof’s coming off, we can go after them for rubbish,” Rorick said.The other option is the county’s unsafe building ordinance, which can be used if kids are smoking dope inside or the fire district thinks it’s a fire danger, he said.”We don’t have the resources to initiate actions on our own, but we always take action on a complaint from a nearby property owner,” Rorick said.The county is happy if the owner decides to tear a mobile home down or haul it away, he said.”In cases where taxes aren’t being paid on the property, the county can do a foreclosure. If someone comes in and pays the taxes on it, they become the owner and they get a surprise (in the form of a code enforcement action),” Rorick said.”Our main concern is bringing the property into compliance and getting rid of those old mobiles.”

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