‘Far-reaching consequences’ as ‘modular home’ on Apollo Street in Hobe Sound violates County Code

A view of the “modular home” from Apollo Street (Source: Palm Beach Post)

Local attorney and civic activist Virginia Sherlock informs on the recent determination by The Martin County Code Enforcement Magistrate that the manufactured home installed on a lot on Apollo Street in Hobe Sound violates the County Code because it is not installed on a “permanent foundation,” and the structure must be removed or installed on a stem wall or monolithic slab foundation.

Residents of the Zeus Park neighborhood complained about the structure, which is considered a “modular home,” although it looks exactly like a mobile home and was installed in exactly the same way mobile homes are installed, that is, on “dry stack” cinder blocks, tied down with metal straps augered into the ground.

The Martin County Building Official determined that the “engineered foundation” was acceptable and issued a building permit for the structure.  But the Growth Management Department issued a notice of violation on grounds that the County’s Land Development Regulations require modular homes to be installed on a “permanent foundation,” which Growth Management interpreted to be a stem wall or monolithic slab foundation that cannot be easily removed.

The magistrate agreed that the Growth Management Department’s interpretation of the term “permanent foundation” is reasonable and enforceable.

The magistrate found that if the Martin County Building Official or the property owners had bothered to get a “zoning determination” from the Growth Management Department before proceeding with installation, the interpretation of the requirement for a “permanent foundation” would have been disclosed, preventing the property owners from having to spend “a considerable sum, along with the grief and aggravation associated with constructing a building that could presumably never be approved by the County’s zoning authority.”
The Building Official issues permits based on construction criteria in the Building Code; the Growth Management Department enforces and interprets the zoning code.The requirement for a “permanent foundation” is in the zoning code, which the Florida Building Code specifically leaves to local zoning officials to interpret and enforce.

The magistrate specifically noted that “This case has far-reaching consequences for Martin County and beyond.”

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