Zoning Glossary

Buffer Strip - A parcel of land located between different land uses. The buffer strip may contain specific types and amounts of plants and/or structures needed to minimize conflict between land uses. Example: A park located between a residential and a commercial area. 
Building - Any structure that has a roof supported by columns or walls and is intended for shelter, housing or enclosure of people, animals or other property. 
Principal Building - The main building on the lot. A connection -- breeze way, porch or carport -- between two buildings, with or without a roof, does not make the two buildings a single, unique building. 
Accessory Building - A building that is an addition to, or subordinate to, the principal building and located on the same lot. Example: A garage is an accessory building to your home. 
Building Coverage - The horizontal area measured within the perimeter of the exterior walls of the floor most protruding toward the property lines of all principal and accessory buildings on a lot. 
Building Permit - A document or certificate issued by a county or city authorizing the construction, enlargement, alteration, moving or demolition of a building or structure. 
Carport - A building used for storing your vehicles and which has no enclosure other than its roof and support. Your carport must present only minimal- obstruction of air, light and view. 
Certificate of Occupancy - You must get this certificate before you can legally live in your home. It is issued after the final inspection by the county or city building official. 
Comprehensive Plan - A plan that gives a complete idea of the present and future developments of the land economics and land policies of a region. 
Covenants - A legal means of controlling the structures and/or activities that can be placed on a parcel of land. They are designed to control land in a limited area, such as a subdivision. They are a private land-use restriction, enforced privately by the courts. They typically run with the land, also known as "restrictive covenants" or "deed restrictions." 
Cluster Zoning - A development design that relaxes conventional zoning and/or subdivision standards to permit modifying lot sizes and shapes. Cluster zoning concentrates single-family homes in specific areas of an overall tract. 
Dwelling - Any building that is used only for humans, including any permitted home occupation but excluding hotels, motels and rooming and boarding houses; a home. 
Dwelling Unit - One or more connected rooms which are a separate, independent housekeeping establishment, with provisions for cooling, eating and sleeping, and which are physically set apart from any other rooms or dwelling units in the same structure. Example: Apartments in the same complex. 
Easement - A grant by a land owner for the specific use of a strip or parcel of land. Such a grant may be made to and accepted by the general public, a corporation or an individual. 
Family - One or more people living together as a single housekeeping unit. Those people may include guests, foster children and domestic servants employed by the homes' inhabitants. 
Flood Plain - A land area next to a river, stream or water course which is likely to be flooded. The flood plain for the major streams in a county can be found on the County Flood Plain Map, which is available from the County Administrator or the County/City Engineer. 
Floor Area Ratio - The gross floor area of all buildings on a lot, divided by the lot's area. 
Lot - A parcel of land designated by a number or other symbol as a part of a legally approved and recorded subdivision or as described by metes and bounds and recorded in the County Probate Office. 
Manufactured Home/Mobile Home Community - A parcel of land under single ownership on which two or more manufactured homes are located. 
Non-Conforming - This term applies to lots, structures, or uses of land or structures that are unlawful, but which were lawful before passage of a specific ordinance. When non-conforming lots, structures or uses are allowed to remain, they are referred to as being "grand-fathered". 

Overlay Zones - Applies to an area in which special requirements are imposed in addition to those already specified in the basic zoning district, often used for historic preservation and flood plain districts. 
Owner/Landowner - Any person, firm, corporation or legal entity which has title to, or sufficient proprietary interest, in land sought to be re zoned. 
Parks - Lots or parcels of land devoted to recreation. Facilities can range from open landscaped areas to playgrounds. 
Planned Unit Development (PUD) - A land area where a variety of housing types and/or related commercial and industrial facilities exist in a pre-planned environment. Standards, such as lot sizes and setbacks, are less restrictive than normal. Approval for such a development requires specific standards in addition to those of a standard Subdivision, such as design principals and landscaping plans. 
Plat - A map, plan, or layout that shows the location and boundaries of individual properties and/or facilities. 
Right-of-Way - A strip of land occupied or intended to be occupied by a street, crosswalk, railroad, electric transmission line, oil or gas pipeline, water main, sanitary or storm sewer main, shade trees or for another specified use. 
Sectional Home - A sectional home consists of two or more units that are built in a factory and taken to the home site where they are put on a permanent foundation and joined to make a permanent, single-family home.
Setback Line - The line indicating the minimum distance permitted between the street right-of-way line and any building and its projections, other than steps, eaves, chimneys, bay windows and fire escapes. 
Special Exceptions - Refers to a use that is compatible with and related to the uses that are permitted in a zoning district. Requires additional review and must comply with some additional standards so that it does not have a harmful impact on the surrounding area, also known as conditional uses. 
Structure - Anything constructed or created that must be on the ground or attached to the ground, such as mobile homes, travel trailers, signs, mobile signs, and portable signs. This does not include such things as ornamental pools, planting boxes, bird baths, paved surfaces, walkways, driveways, recreational equipment, flag poles and mail boxes. 
Subdivision - Any division of a tract or parcel of land in two or more lots, building sites, or other divisions to sell or as a development's includes any land division that involves a new public or private street or changing an existing public or private street, includes re-subdivisions. 
Travel Trailer - Any vehicle on wheels, not more than 26 feet long, designed and intended to serve primarily as short-term shelter. 
Variance - Modifying the strict terms of an ordinance. This modification does not authorize a principal or accessory use of the property which is not permitted within the zoning district where the property is located. 
Yard - Open, unoccupied space on the same lot with a principal building. 
Front Yard - Yard situated between the front building line and the front lot line, extending the full width of the lot. 
Rear Yard - Yard situated between the rear building line and the rear lot line, extending the full width of the lot. 
Side Yard - Yard between a side building line and a side lot line, extending from the front yard to the rear yard. 
Zoning Certificate - A certificate from the zoning administrator stating that a proposal to use or occupy a tract of land or building or alter a structure, building or sign fully meets the requirements of the zoning regulations. 

Make A Good Impression

If the City or County zoning official blocks your effort to site your home, you can appeal. Subdivision developments or petitions to re-zone are heard at public hearings, usually before the local Planning Commission. Variances or deviations from zoning ordinance requirements are usually heard by the Board of Zoning Adjustments. The following guidelines will apply to most public hearings. Be prepared.

  • Request an application to appear before the authority having jurisdiction (Planning Commission, Board of Adjustments, City Council or other governing body.)
  • Complete the application, providing very thorough and accurate information.
  • Provide all documentation requested in the application (plats, photos, plans, etc.).
  • Pay all processing or application fees.
  • Keep up with all the developments that involve your application.
  • Prepare for the public hearing.
  • Anticipate and prepare for any questions or concerns that may be addressed.
  • Know the neighborhood. Has it been abandoned by site-built developers? Is it rural? Are there other manufactured homes? Is it a deteriorating neighborhood where your new home would be an improvement?
  • Attend the meeting as scheduled to present your case.
  • Show them. A picture is worth a thousand words. Don't let the review board think "trailer". Take photos of the type of manufactured home you are attempting to site. Outline any improvements you plan to make. Help the review board draw a picture in their mind of a nice home, providing excellent housing for the community.
  • Do not refer to your home as a "trailer" or "mobile home". Use only the term "manufactured home". Use the term "multi-section" instead of "double-wide" and "single-section" instead of "single-wide". Better yet, let them know it is your home. Don't allow others to label your choice of housing.
  • Be prepared to make an emotional appeal. Don't let the Planning Commission or other governing body forget they are dealing with real people – you & your family.
  • Don't be intimidated by the process. Government officials are only people. You have a right to make an appeal, and variances and other zoning changes are often granted. It might be to your benefit to have written approval from adjacent property owners. Also, you may want to bring those in support of your petition to the meeting.
  • Try to schedule an appointment with the Planning Commissioner or City Council member from your district. Introduce yourself and share information about your home and manufactured housing in general. Get a preliminary vote of approval. It's usually more difficult to reject a request in person. If the official from your district votes to approve your petition, often the other members will concur.
  • If the Planning Commission or Board of Adjustments denies your petition, you still have other avenues of appeal. Within most municipalities, the City Council will usually hear appeals of Planning Commission or Board of Adjustments decisions. Plan for the City Council meeting in the same way you did for the initial hearing.
  • If your request is denied after exhausting all administrative appeals, legal action may be your only remaining option. You may want to consult a local attorney who is familiar with land-use law.

Now You Can Begin

If you have any questions about placement of a manufactured home on your property, make certain you get the following information from a local zoning official or Register of Deeds office: 

  • A legal description of your property.
  • Any site improvements necessary for your property.
  • Location of easements or flood plains which may affect placement.
  • Zoning district or designation of the proposed manufactured home site.
  • Zoning regulations for the district (lot size required, set-backs, etc.)
  • Permit requirements.
  • Special conditions or requirements for siting manufactured homes.
  • Availability of utilities and requirements for utility connections.
  • Deed restrictions or subdivision requirements that may apply.

If your request to site your manufactured home is denied, ask for a detailed reason for the denial to be stated in writing. Manufactured homes built after 1976 come under a preemptive Federal building code (HUD Code). This means it is against Federal regulations to discriminate against the placement of a HUD-Code home based on the building codes. The local building code cannot supersede the Federal code.

Three Key Points

When planning to site your new home, remember these three key points:

1. Anticipate problems beforehand. 

Costly delays and expenditures can often be avoided by obtaining useful information through good research. Know what your expenses are. Have a plan. Put in writing what it will take to properly site your new home. 

2. Play by the rules. 

Follow the local government's permit and approval system. Document each step taken. Do not proceed on the basis of what some government official may have said; put it in writing. Verify phone conversations with memos or handwritten notes. Always know who you are talking to and what authority he or she has. 

3. Evaluate your commitment. 

This is not an overnight process. Placing a manufactured home may be a very time-consuming process. Make sure you are willing to pursue an appeal or legal challenge should current zoning policy block your attempts to site your manufactured home. Make sure your retailer is committed to assist you in changing unfair laws or regulations. At the same time, do not be discouraged by discriminatory zoning policies. Go ahead and try to locate your home on the lot of your choice. Despite some perceptions, manufactured homes are not inferior to site-built houses. Changes and exceptions to zoning policies are common.

Where Can I Live?

Despite the vast structural and aesthetic improvements in manufactured homes during recent years, many Oklahoma cities and counties still restrict such homes in residential districts. 

The Manufactured Housing Association of Oklahoma has developed this guide to help you, the home owner, find a place for you and your family--in your new manufactured home. 

This guide provides information that should be useful in dealing with discriminatory zoning policies against manufactured homes. Developing and understanding the zoning process and the political forces involved can be an important factor in gaining approval for siting your manufactured home. 

MHAO is working to change the outdated attitudes and perceptions of manufactured housing that have resulted in zoning and land-use regulations that are barriers to manufactured home owners. You will greatly increase your chances of successfully siting your home by familiarizing yourself with this information and then closely following the suggested format. 

When you have questions or need additional assistance, contact your manufactured home retailer.