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County wants to alter mobile home rules

Thursday, July 14, 2005
Daily Herald
by Ames Boykin

A disabled man died in 2002 when flames engulfed his Des Plaines mobile home.

A fire last year that started when a woman heated tamales wrapped in aluminum foil in a microwave devastated an Elk Grove Township mobile home park. No one was injured when the fire spread, but it destroyed five other mobile homes and five vehicles.

These incidents have spurred Cook County to propose changing its mobile home regulations to add space between mobile homes, and increase the distance new homes must be from the road.

These would be the first changes to the county’s mobile home laws since 1972.

While the proposed changes wouldn’t increase the 10-foot distance already required between the sides of mobile homes, they would increase the distance between the ends of homes, and between the homes and street.

Under Cook County Board President John Stroger’s proposal, homes would have to be at least 10 feet from a private street.

Under the current law, homes must be 10 feet from a public street, but private streets within a mobile home parks were exempt, said Sean McDermott, director of policy development for the Cook County Department of Public Health.

This change would help clear the way for firetrucks, which sometimes cannot fit on the narrow roads in mobile home parks.

The requirement to keep at least 10 feet between mobile homes wouldn’t be changed. But the reforms would require at least eight feet between a home’s end and another’s side, and six feet between the ends of each home.

The law wouldn’t be retroactive.

Mobile home residents are heralding the proposals as a step in the right direction.

Terry Nelson, a Des Plaines resident and president of the Mobile Home Owners Association of Illinois, said the changes are needed as a response to the increases in the sizes of modern mobile homes, and emergency vehicles.

Such changes could mean the difference between a tragedy, like those in Des Plaines and Elk Grove Township, and a happy ending, Nelson said.

“If there was one less home, and a little more distance, those cars might not have caught fire,” Nelson said.

A committee will discuss the proposals. There was no time set for the meeting as of late Wednesday. Then, the Cook County Board would have to consider the changes.



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