Local News

Modular home causes debate in Cary neighborhood

Posted July 8, 2009 6:37 p.m. EDT
Updated July 9, 2009 6:25 a.m. EDT

— The big lots and the quaint brick homes in the quiet Hillsdale Forest subdivision in Cary were part of the reason Joe Lete and his family moved to the neighborhood.

It's what attracted other residents, as well.

Some residents, however, say they are now upset that a residence that looks like a manufactured, or mobile, home is going up in the neighborhood at 1182 Fairlane Road.

"We have real stick-built homes, and this does not look like a stick-built home," Carol Price said. "It looks like a doublewide."

Residents say they are concerned that the unit won't hold up in a storm – like Hurricane Fran, which caused damage to the neighborhood in 1996 – and that it will devalue their home and property values.

"People have been very, very upset about it," Price said.

Cary allows manufactured homes in only three designated areas of the town. Officials say that even though it looks like a mobile home, it is actually classified as a "modular" home.

Modulars are allowed in Cary because they meet more stringent, state building codes than mobile homes, which are manufactured according to lower-quality federal standards.

Sill, neighbors say it sits on stacked cinderblocks and has no foundation and can be moved.

"At any time, I could put wheels on it and drive it away, which again, makes it a mobile home," Lete said.

Town officials say the unit, which was put up two weeks ago, must have a brick and mortar foundation before the residents can move in. It must also pass additional inspections before then.

"It appears that the developer or builder has done everything they would need to meet our ordinance and requirement," Cary inspections director Russ Overton said.

Most subdivisions have restrictive covenants that would prohibit modular homes, but Hillsdale Forest does not have a homeowner's association.

Town Councilman Jack Smith says he understands the residents' concerns. He is having town attorneys look into whether a stricter code on modular homes is possible.

"There's nothing we can do, or anyone in Cary can do," Price said. "If you allow modular homes in your subdivisions, you can get this."

Residents of the home could not be reached for comment.