TAYLORSVILLE — City Council members in Taylorsville shied away from passing a zone change Wednesday that would have protected the city's three existing mobile home parks.

The council discussed the change for more than two hours Wednesday night, but decided to delay voting on the issue until the city's attorney has filed a written opinion on whether the zone change can be considered legal.

The mobile home parks — Monte Vista, Majestic Meadows and Majestic Oaks — are in an area that is zoned for multi-family residential use. In an attempt to preserve those parks, the city is considering adopting a new residential mobile home zone that would require the park property owners to seek city approval if they wanted to sell the property for some other use.

Representatives for Monte Vista say placing zoning restrictions on what their property can be used for is tantamount to taking their property away.

"We don't agree with being saddled with a down-zoning that permits no other use of the property," said Susan Walter, who represents Monte Vista's three owners. "We want rights for use of the property, ... and our rights are now being restricted. (A residential mobile home) zone is a dead-end zone."

Walter said if the city changes the zone, it would be like "government confiscation and taking of our property rights without compensation," but Councilman Jerry Rechtenbach bristled at Walter's language.

"This whole thing began because the city recognized our mobile home parks are exposed in the current zoning, and we were concerned that someone could come in and do what has been done in Cottonwood Heights," Rechtenbach said. "It is our intent to create a situation where the owners had the opportunity to sell, but it wouldn't be at the expense of all of the homeowners that live there. That's the intent of what we want to accomplish here."

The council asked city attorney John Brems to file a written explanation by the Jan. 23 council meeting on whether the zone change could legally be considered "taking." The council plans to vote on the issue at that meeting.

One resident who was evicted from her mobile home in Cottonwood Heights came to the meeting to show support for the ordinance. Joanne Benfatti, a member of the Mobile Home Action Group, listened as the council considered the zone change, reliving her own experience of being evicted three months after she bought her mobile home in Cottonwood Heights.

Benfatti says she has paid $20,000 of her own money to relocate, but she's still not completely settled in her new home.

"I know what I went through," Benfatti said. "That's why I'm here to fight for them."

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