FloridaToday reports that fewer retirees are selling homes up north and are coming to Florida for retirement to live “happily ever after,” said Jim Ayotte, Executive Director of the Florida Manufactured Housing Association and the Manufactured Housing Executives Committee (MHEC) chairman. “It’s unfortunate that everyone is zoning out mobile homes. Because if they look at new construction, we’ve done well. It’s a great testament to the industry for homes built after lessons learned from Hurricane Andrew,” Ayotte said. Ayotte was referring to the fact that manufactured homes built to the new wind storm standards of 1994 paired with the modern installation standards often did better than conventional construction in the hurricanes of 2004. Yet Florida’s state regulations now prohibit new manufactured housing communities in “coastal high hazard areas” like Brevard’s barrier island, said Robin Sobrino, county planning and zoning director. And at many older parks, hurricane-damaged homes cannot be replaced because they do not meet modern setback guidelines, minimum lot size and other regulations, said Cindy Fox, the county’s planning, zoning and enforcement manager. Between developers during the boom years who ‘gobbled up’ older land lease ‘mobile home parks’ to redevelop for condos or other high density and higher tax rate construction, and zoning changes, beach front manufactured home communities that allowed for low cost living for retirees or others are vanishing. What did this increasingly disrupted lifestyle pattern offer? “We have access to the ocean, and the same thing to the river — it’s beautiful down there when the sun sets. People go down there, take their little glass of wine, and they really love it,” Irene Eckles said. Don Boyland, Leisure Livings’s chairman of the board of directors, said that residents overwhelmingly rejected an offer during the boom that would have paid each resident a sizeable sums from a developer who wanted to purchase. The appeal such a manufactured home community offered, “That’s why there’s very rarely a house for sale in here,” Eckles, a resident of Leisure Living Estates in Melbourne Beach, said.
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