AIKEN -- Mobile homes, those much-maligned metal abodes that are home to some area residents, are earning a little more respect these days at City Hall.
The city's planning commission gave its approval Tuesday for a proposed zoning category allowing mobile homes to be located in certain single-family communities.
Currently the only site where mobile homes are permitted in the city is the Camellia Trailer Park off Hampton Street, said Planning and Development Director Ed Evans.
Council members will vote on the issue in the next few weeks.
But city officials don't envision trailers popping up on every vacant lot across town.
The amendment would be limited to property of at least 10 acres.
Also, it would apply only to property already inside the city limits at the time the ordinance is officially approved by city council members.
"You're not going to find very many tracts of 10 acres that would be suitable for mobile homes across the city," Mr. Evans said.
The proposal primarily was drafted to allow mobile homes in the Hidden Haven community east of Silver Bluff Road.
Hidden Haven property owners have been asking city officials for a zoning amendment permitting mobile homes since the area was annexed a few years ago, Mr. Evans said.
Later this year city officials will examine, and possibly loosen, regulations against mobile-home owners in unincorporated areas who receive city services, Mr. Evans said.
Improvements to the structural integrity and the appearance of mobile homes in recent years have led local governments across the country to lighten up on restrictions against them, Mr. Evans said.
"The difference between manufactured homes and conventional housing is becoming more blurred," he said.