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Fighting for the right to a better home

By Staff
FIGHTING CITY HALL Bonnie and O.D. Williamson walk near their old mobile home, located on Mosby Road. The couple is among several mobile home owners fighting a city law that will not allow them to upgrade to new double-wides. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
July 22, 2001
While some senior citizens spend their retirement years with few major worries, O.D. and Bonnie Williamson have been fighting Meridian city leaders for the right to a better home.
They want to replace their run-down, 22-year-old mobile home with a new, double-wide manufactured home. But a city law prevents the Williamsons from upgrading their home and could cause them to lose it.
Williamson is not alone in his battle.
For months, he and other trailer owners have urged city leaders to change existing laws. At the same time, subdivision residents fear trailers will reduce their property values; they want the laws to stay intact.
The issue could move closer to a resolution at the Tuesday meeting of the Meridian Planning Commission. Panel members could recommend that the City Council give trailer owners six months to upgrade their home.
Some subdivision residents, like Fletcher Ludgood of Royal Oaks, want the city to leave the law alone. Ludgood said he doesn't oppose trailer owners; he said he "just doesn't want anymore trailers around here."
Planning commissioners speak
Meridian city laws now let residents place trailer homes in specifically designated areas. Some areas zoned for mobile homes, though, don't allow trailer owners to upgrade; when those homes become uninhabitable, they cannot be replaced.
Tom Lawrence, one of nine members on the Planning Commission, said he believes that giving trailer owners six months to upgrade sounds legally shaky. Lawrence said he "would not be in favor of it for a day."
David Stephens, another commission member, said the six-month proposal will not solve issues that concern home owners who live near mobile homes.
City Councilman Bobby Smith, who represents Ward 5, said he just wants to see an end to the issue. Smith said he believes is isn't necessary to "be playing ball back-and-forth with this anymore."
Subdivision residents agree
Ludgood said he believes trailers near his subdivision in east Meridian depreciate the value of everything nearby. Ludgood said if council members allow the upgrade they may pay a heavy price.
Robert Markham, president of the Royal Oaks Homeowners Association, said mobile home owners are not considering the economic impact their trailers have on everyone else.
But trailer owners have a different take. Rosie Brown, who lives in a trailer about a mile from Royal Oaks, said she believes people like her should have the option of living in a better home.
Until some solution is reached, Bonnie Williamson said that she and her husband will try to wait out the issue one day at a time.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3226, or e-mail him at balexander@themeridianstar.com.