Nelson County Supervisors consider Ridgecrest Mobile Home Park

The Nelson County Board of Supervisors heard from the public Tuesday on a proposal to build a mobile home park near the Ridgecrest Baptist Church on U.S. 29 north of Lovingston. Civil engineer Justin Shimp needed a special use permit for the project. 

Shimp said he was pursuing the project to help provide more housing that can be affordable to households with lower incomes. 

“Five years ago, I would not have thought about this and didn’t think it would be needed because of affordability, but such are the increases in cost that achieving housing for folks who don’t make $100,000 a year is very difficult,” Shimp said. 

Shimp said mobile home parks can be a good way to provide housing at a lower cost.

“One can buy a new mobile home so as little as $60,000 to pay to set it up,” Shimp said. “You could then rent a mobile home pad for around $400 a month. That is a much different sort of price point for folks than typical housing stock.”

Shimp said under his arrangement, the people who would live there would own a share of the common areas and could sell those shares in the future. 

“I think this park investor opportunity will be a way for people who historically haven’t been able to set anchor somewhere would be able to buy in and take ownership of that and it will be good for the community,” Shimp said. 

The Planning Commission voted 4-1 in March on the proposal but set 33 conditions for Supervisors to consider in their review. 

Several neighbors of the proposed park spoke at the public hearing. One person wanted to know what Nelson County’s standards are for mobile homes and how wastewater would be handled. 

“Has there or will there ever be done a study on the effects of 51 additional homes on the water source?” asked Larry Shelton. 

Another person was concerned about the entrance off of U.S. 29. 

“You have to be very careful with any kind of proposals about how you’re going to get the trailers in there, how is this going to happen, how this is going to affect the residents that are there,” said Tonya Bradley. 

Another person was concerned that allowing 51 units in the rural area was not acceptable under the Comprehensive Plan. 

The debate got heated as South District Craig Barton peppered Shimp with questions about the cost of housing. Barton said he was skeptical the trailer park would work. 

“Have you thought about ways to figure out how to get it so people who live in this country can be able to afford a house?” Barton asked. “What could be done as a builder to help you build a house that a person will know will increase in value in his lifetime?” 

Shimp said there was little that the Nelson County Board of Supervisors could do. The conversation broke down as West District Supervisosr J. David Parr tried to establish order. 

Barton said he did not think it was likely that the trailers would increase in value. 

“The problems of housing are real and we need to deal with those problems,” Barton said. “Whether or not a mobile home will help in solving this problem, I don’t know. I think probably not.” 

Shimp said there was ample water on the site, and that many of the neighbors would be on the other side of Muddy Creek, which would mean any wells would not affect their groundwater. 

There were only four Supervisors present when it was time to take a vote as North District Supervisor Tommy Harvey was not in attendance. 

“There are aspects of this project that I think are positive and admirable, but the density concerns me,” said Central District Supervisor Ernie Reed. 

Parr supported the project, as did East District Supervior Jesse Rutherford. He is chair of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission and sits on the Regional Housing Partnership. 

“More often than not the struggle always comes down to how to make something affordable, Rutherford said. “Question always comes down to where is the appropriate place. I’ve found if you put it near an area that’s meant for high density, folks usually may not like it. And if you put it in the middle of nowhere folks might not like it and you’re going to get that perspective no matter which way you look at it.” 

Rutherford said the only way to attain affordability is through density. He said the Comprehensive Plan update needs to consider this as Nelson considers how to make housing attainable for more people. 

Given Harvey’s absence, Supervisors opted to continue the matter to the next meeting. That will give Shimp more time to respond to some of the questions asked. 

Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the April 14, 2022 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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