The North Platte City Council took a big step Tuesday toward setting standards for mobile homes that will be located in North Platte.
The council approved a new ordinance on first reading that sets minimum standards for new or used mobile homes that will be located, relocated, moved and set in the city of North Platte and its two-mile jurisdiction.
Under the standards, a mobile home must have at least 900 square feet of floor area, solid roof, straight walls, be rust free, solid floors, and utility lines that meet code, among other similar requirements.
The regulation is a step in combating substandard housing in North Platte. Nancy Striebel, the director of the Lincoln County Development Corporation, spoke Tuesday, urging the council to adopt the ordinance.
A year and a half ago, Striebel asked the council to add some teeth to existing housing standards and fill gaps in city regulations. She said the health and safety of those who live in substandard homes is a major concern.
North Platte resident John Winchell has also pressed for better housing standards for more than two years.
Winchell told the Bulletin a year ago that many private individuals volunteer time and material to make emergency repairs to houses, and the state of some of the places is unimaginable, with no sewer, no hot water, no heat and wind blowing through the building.
He said trash often blocks access to emergency services; there are holes in roofs and electrical wiring is outdated. The houses can be inhabited by young children and elderly alike.
Winchell said landlords in North Platte are for the most part good property owners, but there are many who are not, and sometimes renters have no recourse.
On Dec. 17, the North Platte Planning Commission unanimously recommended adopting the mobile home ordinance.
In response to a question Tuesday by Councilman Brook Baker, Building Inspector Norm Franken said existing mobile homes can already be inspected on a complaint basis.
City Administrator Jim Hawks clarified that this ordinance would not affect existing mobile homes, only mobile homes that arrive in the future.
The council voted unanimously for the ordinance, which will be reviewed again. This was the first reading of three required readings.
In other business, the council approved the creation of an airport hazard area district that maintains a minimum distance for airplane traffic at North Platte Regional Airport/Lee Bird Field.
This ordinance would limit the height and location of structures within airspace near the operation, 10-mile runaway approach area, and within a three-mile turning zone above the airport.
Airport Manager Mike Sharkey said this is primarily to protect the airspace over and around airports to stop construction of structures that would be so tall as to extend into the required safe zones.
This ordinance also received a unanimous recommendation on Dec. 17 from the Planning Commission.
The Nebraska Legislature enacted a revised statute that requires that every political subdivision that has a comprehensive plan and zoning regulations, and has an airport hazard area, adopt, administer and enforce the regulations of that statute for airport hazard areas.
The council voted unanimously to adopt the ordinance. Again, this was the first reading of three that are required.
911 telephone charge
Also, the council approved an ordinance creating a uniform telephone service surcharge for 911 services. The council suspended the rules and passed the ordinance on first reading.
The new ordinance has become necessary because of changes to state statutes and new telephone technology. A law change has caused some telephone companies to take the position that they do not now have to forward the surcharge on to the city, Hawks told the council.
The existing surcharge of $1 a month will not change. The new ordinance only rewords the existing ordinance to comply with state statutes and include new technology.
Baker moved to suspend the three reading rule and pass this ordinance on first reading. The council agreed and the ordinance was passed.
Also, the council approved Mayor Dwight Livingstonís re-appointments of Dixie Francis and Dr. Richard Raska to the Library Advisory Board.
Bulletin Editor George Lauby contributed to this report.