Anne Arundel County community leaders launched their heaviest assault yet on mobile home development here tonight, urging the County Council to defeat the remnant of a once-comprehensive package of bills intended to increase the supply of such homes.
At the end of the council hearing, the chairman of the county's task force on affordable housing, which had pressed for the legislation, stalked out and slammed the chamber door in disgust.
As originally framed, the legislation would have allowed new mobile home park development and the creation of mobile home subdivisions. Under discussion last night was a watered-down version that would allow the county's existing 29 mobile home parks to expand onto surrounding land. More than a dozen community association representatives objected.
Most of the opposition came from residents of southern Anne Arundel, where expansion would most likely occur. They said mobile home development would not be compatible with the rural south's "country atmosphere" and would increase population density, straining roads and other county services.
"They are a tax burden on single family homeowners," said Rosson Carter of Owensville. Carter said he pays double the county taxes of a mobile home owner.
Following the opposition testimony, task force chairman Tom Parlett rose and said:
"I've heard testimony at every one of these hearings that we need affordable housing. Yet, everything we suggest is nitpicked to death and scrutinized for special interest. I'm in the United States, which is a free country, and I don't see where we can legislate where people live.
"If my parents had the attitude a lot of people have had at these last several hearings a lot of these people who have spoken would not be here tonight."
Despite the opposition tonight, the park expansion bill is expected to pass next Monday. But it would not significantly increase the number of mobile homes in the county, a representative for mobile home park owners said.
"It will open up a few more spaces a few years down the road," said William Pitcher, an attorney representing park owners.
Currently, Anne Arundel has 3,396 mobile home sites, more than any other county in Maryland, according to testimony tonight.
A bill to allow mobile home owners to buy private lots in separate mobile home subdivisions was voted down earlier this month, while a bill to allow expansion of existing mobile home parks and creation of new ones was amended to allow only for the expansion of existing parks.