(consider this as Novice comments as the name states)
Depending on the size of your municipality, you may not find a lawyer from that location who doesn’t have ties to city officials. When I wanted a lawyer who was “immersed” in my city so they would know the rules, the ones I called either said they don’t handle this type of question or they said “conflict of interest” (I found out one was friends w/the same people that run the city thus they don’t want to be in a position of going against their friends.) You may need a wider net to find one.
I would think the city has the right to impose any zoning or rules, within what is currently on the books, to do the annexation? Why would they annex the plot unless it’s to their benefit and it’s following the laws they have for annexation? They could always include a variance to annex with different setbacks, etc. to the ordinances but only if they see that to their benefit and that it doesn’t open a can of worms to other parcels in the city that wanted those same variances. Maybe find out (Open Recs Request if you can’t find out otherwise) if other parks in that city were granted any variances in the ordinances and see if you can use that as leverage. (“well I see you let MHC A have homes closer together and my MHC is going to be well kept and attract good tenants as well but the homes have to be in the same position…”) (ie.City would be getting the additional taxes from your land and homes. It seems more cities and counties are trying to stop manufactured housing because they lose money in the way of taxes vs. stick built homes in the same spot. They now would need to provide Fire and Police and schooling, etc., right? Will it look appealing to them to bring in the park?). Does your current city have to agree to give up your land to the other city? (any hurdles with that?)
Does the well water and wastewater treatment work? Or too old, about to fail? Would your current city be bringing city water and sewer to your location any time soon such that it is wiser to wait for them? Just from my limited but difficult experience (below) about zoning & grandfathering I would NOT purposely give up my grandfathering and legally non-conforming status unless I knew the change would allow for a better means to continue the survivability of the MHC (ie. replacing homes that get too old) at the expense of fewer rents. If your water & waste are failing and you have no choice but hook up with the new city then that means (probably) that you reduce your income by removing homes that don’t fit into the required rules.
When Frank talked about getting that lawyer that the city fears and battling – I think that presupposes you have a leg to stand on with being legally non-conforming. Once you knowingly ask for annexation, if that comes with losing grandfathering, the city will just point to that and say “you knew what you were doing, no we do not agree to a variance”.
In my case – about 26 years ago the owner requested City Council to allow him to place a business on the corner of his lot. They agreed for “just the section” to have a business. But it didn’t matter, it was all one parcel at the time so they made the whole parcel “Commercial”. That now means (according to City and lawyers) that the existing homes (40 yrs old) are able to stay and if you want to demolish one of these distressed, neglected homes out you can (they’d probably be thrilled). Ie. this property lost it’s grandfathering as soon as the owner requested to change zoning.
I cannot bring in a nicer home to replace one of the failing homes. Not only would I need a variance to bring a home into “Commercial” but I would need a variance to situate the home in the spot which is too close to other homes because they changed their setbacks for mobile homes to match a single family home – 11K sq ft for a lot and various distances that are not possible in this property if I were to keep the same # of homes. So part of the city’s argument is “you knew it was Commercial when you bought it and that means no homes go in” ie. too bad for you.
I can envision your potential new city saying the same thing. If you can get them to agree make sure you get it all in writing and guaranteed they can’t change their minds in 10 years and say you are not legally non-conforming. Some things to think about: Can you currently replace homes with your current city? If you switched to the 2nd city, and had to remove homes will the reduced income still be a good investment? Would you be able to replace old homes under the new arrangement with the 2nd city?
Five years ago this same City’s Council minutes show a resident appealing their decision preventing her from bringing in replacement homes for 3 that had a fire or whatever other reason. Her parcel too had been changed to Commercial but the setbacks too were the closer ones from 40 yrs ago. They refused to let her bring homes onto the now empty lots because of it. Now, that park is no longer in existence and nothing is there.
Take your time and get all your questions answered by the experts to consider all the angles that you may not have thought of. Good luck with your decision making.