1. Overview
2. What is a Manufactured Home
3.City Zoning Ordinances
  3.1 Helena
  3.2 Billings
  3.3 Great Falls
4. Code Requirements
5. Objectives of Zoning Ordinances
6. Appearance Comparisons
7. Value Considerations
8. Suggested Zoning Language
  5. Objectives of Zoning Ordinances

     Review of the various zoning ordinances reveal a wide disparity in the understanding of manufactured housing and the role it plays in the housing market. Few of the ordinances fully conform to the language of applicable Montana State Codes. To better understand the role of manufactured housing, the primary objectives of zoning should be re-visited, particularly those areas that involve (1) construction and safety, (2) appearance, and (3) property values.

     The issue of construction and safety as applied to manufactured housing is resolved in the language of state law and case history. So long as the manufactured house meets the requirements of state law and each house is certified to comply with the standards of the national Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards, the issue becomes moot. The HUD-referenced CABO standards are considered equivalent to any adopted building code. Local codes, such as the Uniform Building Code, may apply only to those additions to a manufactured home that are constructed on-site or without CABO certification such as foundations, porches, decks, and garages.
     Issues of appearance can be and are considered in a variety of ways. The Billings code defines issues of appearance in a Class A manufactured home but severely, by comparison, restricts placement of manufactured homes. The Great Falls code addresses appearance, but departs from the language of Title 70-2-203(6) by being both more and less lenient.
     Appearance standards can be impacted positively or negatively regardless of the type of construction. They should be developed carefully and applied equally to all types of construction with the intent of establishing the aesthetic value of neighborhoods. 
     Property value issues are valid and are a necessary part of zoning regulations. There is, however, a need for caution in assuming that manufactured housing will negatively impact property
values. Title 70-2-202(3) refers to a —rebuttable presumption‚ that the placement of a manufactured home will not adversely affect property values of conventional housing. This would suggest that manufactured housing should not be —assumed‚ to reduce property value. Appraisal comparisons should be made to demonstrate whether property values will be affected or not.
     Manufactured housing is directed toward the affordable housing market, a sector that comprises a significant number of home buyers in the State of Montana. Restricting the use of quality affordable housing without due consideration is a disservice to those that need access to this market. When there are valid reasons to restrict placement of manufactured housing, efforts should be made to provide opportunities for siting these homes elsewhere. This can be achieved through the use of Manufactured Home Park districts and transitional zones between districts. Some areas may be expanded to allow manufactured homes that demonstrate their ability to match other types of permitted homes in appearance and value.

Montana Manufactured Housing and RV Association
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