Bringing in New Homes to Legal Non-Conforming Zoned Park

I am under contract for a park in Minnesota. A big part of the value I planned to add is infilling with new and used homes. The city is saying since the park is legal non-conforming I would not be allowed to bring in any additional homes. This seems very arbitrary to me… I can replace a home that leaves now but not replace homes that left previously? Below you can see the reply from the city in bold to my questions. How would you handle this situation? I really would like to improve this community and bringing in new homes is a huge part of the plan. Also, shouldn’t I still be able to get a certificate of zoning even if it is non-conforming? I appreciate any thoughts!

  • Certificate of Zoning No certificate exists since the park was developed prior to our adoption of the current zoning ordinance.

  • Confirmation of the official zoning (per our conversation it sounds like legal non-conforming) The site is zoned X1, “Mobile Home Park”. The existing park is considered to be legal, non-conforming since it does not meet the requirements of 2.9

  • How many lots are approved for the park? I.e. what is the max number of lots allowed in the park? The City Assessor’s records from the 1990’s state that there are 80 pads. This matches the number of sites shown on a 1992 drawing in the property file. It appears that the present number of units is approximately 60. Based on the non-conforming nature of the site, no additional units can be added beyond the current number of homes on the site.

  • Are there any restrictions on bringing in new homes? Existing homes can be replaced with new models.

Cities pull this all the time. Hire an attorney.


There are several supreme court cases, supporting the fact that you can, in fact replace those homes, but the nuances vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction . The challenge is that the city bureaucrats do not understand the law and you have to somehow convince them. Sometimes that means you may have to hire an attorney and take legal action, which is very expensive.


mPark is spot on. We’ve dealt with this as well. Fighting it legally is very expensive and not guaranteed, although likely you will succeed. If you succeed prepare for the city to be a major thorn and make your life a lot harder in other ways.

I would strongly suggest either dropping the deal or getting a decent discount on the price tag to reflect the loss of 20 pads or so. This will definitely also affect future resale value of the park. Even more so if the city is difficult to deal with.

You will likely end up between a rock and hard place with these issues. Having dealt with this before - it’s a deal breaker IMO. Usually a sign that the city doesn’t like parks, prepare for inspections from the city, drive throughs, and red tape with every aspect of infill.

Just my 2 cents based on experience.

Good luck.

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In the one case where the city was preventing us from installing new homes, we did hire an attorney, and just to give you an example of the cost, we had a face-to-face meeting between the city officials and my attorney. The price tag of that one hour meeting was $5000 which included travel time for the attorney to come from the nearest major city.

Fortunately, we discovered later that the city was getting bad legal advice due to having an incompetent city attorney. Later they got a new attorney, which basically told them that we were right and that they better start allowing us to bring homes into the community or they will face legal challenges.

That was about five years ago and since then we have been bringing homes into the community without an issue.

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This is not an uncommon response from the City and also not a stance they will change without guidance from their city attorney. Don’t waste your time trying to explain your position to them, hire an attorney and let them do the talking.

This is a business deal, bring the attorney every time you meet with them.


I purchased my first park in Minnesota in 2007 and I still own it today. If your park is licensed for 80 homes through the Minnesota Department of Health (MDOH), then you are allowed 80 homes. First, I want to tell you that the STATE of Minnesota is the most highly regulated state when it comes to MHP. If you purchase the park, please note that you will need a storm shelter large enough to accommodate all the residents. Second, if you bring in NEW homes you are subject to the Manufacturers installation requirements regardless of what is at each site now. Used homes are not subject to this requirement.

The city can not restrict the number of homes unless it does not meet MDOH setbacks and distancing. 10’ from home to homes on the sides and 3’ end-to-end. 15’ from property line adjacent to a city street, and (I believe) 5’ from an adjacent property line. I do not believe there is setbacks from internal park-owned streets. See this for reference: Manufactured Home Parks and Recreational Camping Areas Summary of General Requirements for Manufactured Home Parks - MN Dept. of Health

pubManufacturedHomeParks.pdf (490.9 KB)

As others have stated, the City can not legally prevent you for bringing more homes as long as they comply with State law and MDOH and there is multiple precedence supporting where the City will lose. The only issue with a small City until this happens is usually you need to obtain a permit from the City to move the home into the park, and you might end up going to court to get them to comply.

I do not know who you used for legal representation, but a very good Minnesota attorney that is also the Minnesota Manufactured Housing Association attorney is Mick Conlan whom I have used for anything MHP:

Good luck!


This post is gold. Thank you!!!

The park was built decades ago and has no storm shelter. Has it been your experience that a storm shelter ultimately is a must? The current owner said they are grandfathered in and not required. Based on my research it seems it is no always necessary if the license is pre 1988.

I would love to exchange contact info and share notes on MHPs in Minnesota if you’d be up for it. Thanks again for this most helpful reply.

  • A MHP with ten or more manufactured homes, licensed prior to March 1, 1988 must provide an approved shelter or an approved evacuation plan for the residents of the park in times of high winds or tornadoes. The shelter or evacuation plan must be approved by the municipality. The municipality may require the park owner to construct a shelter if it determines that a safe place of shelter is not available within a reasonable distance from the park. A copy of the municipal approval and the plan must be submitted by the park owner to the department of health. The park owner must provide each resident with a copy of the approved shelter or evacuation plan.

Yes…but look at paragraph three:

“A MHP with ten or more homes receiving a primary license after March 1, 1988 must provide a storm shelter which meets the minimum standards specified by the commissioner of administration. MHPs established as temporary emergency housing in a disaster area declared by the President of the United States or the governor may provide an approved evacuation plan in lieu of a shelter for a period not exceeding 18 months.”

When you purchase the park you will be issued a NEW license and are subject to the new laws. :man_shrugging:

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You should also contact MDOH to see if the park has any current violations. My inspector is Nate Topp at (320) 223-7333 and if he is not yours, he should be able to put you in touch. I will DM you my contact info and you can reach out anytime…

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I am preparing for an expansion which means I will have to increase the size of our shelter. As a point of reference, here is our quote:

TV_RFP_StormShelter_ForterraXX_090922.pdf (74.9 KB)

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You guys get tornados in Minnesota? Never imagined such a thing.

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Very interesting… I would have assumed the license would transfer over and not be considered new. That seems to make more sense to me!