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Alachua County changes regulation that prevented Hawthorne family from replacing mold-infested home

Woman and her dog stand outside of their mold-infested home.
Lollie Chapman and her dog Piper stand outside their mold-infested home. (Jake Reyes/WUFT News)

Alachua County commissioners voted to change a regulation that prevented a Hawthorne family from replacing their severely mold-infested home, however, the family still faces hurdles in finalizing replacement.

Alachua County increased the size limit of placing a mobile home on a property after the previous limit prevented a Hawthorne family from replacing their moldy home.

18-year-old Lollie Chapman, and her 62-year-old mom, Leah, had been suffering from health problems due to constantly breathing in mold.

The mold was caused by all the damage and moisture the house took from Hurricane Irma in 2017.

Earlier this year, Rebuild Florida gave the Chapmans a new home for replacement on the property. However, County Growth Management Director Missy Daniels says the county didn’t approve a building permit for it due to zoning regulations.

“The board of adjustment, which also no longer exists in the county, have issued the hardship variance to Leah Chapman’s father… for them (his family) to take care of him, and it was to be removed once the hardship was no longer,” she said.

The hardship variance, although it no longer exists, complicated the replacement of the home.

The Chapmans had been calling on the county to change some of these rules so that they could live in their new home. The county changed the size regulations, but Jeffrey Hays, the county transportation planning manager, says the Chapmans still need to have their property homesteaded.

Hays says the Chapmans can either have the owner of the property live on the land with them or have the owner transfer ownership to any of the Chapmans who live there.

He says it’s unlikely that this requirement will change due to the rarity of the Chapmans' situation.

“The board didn’t have any appetite to change the owner occupancy requirement,” Hays said. “They were satisfied, and they wanted to keep that.”

As the Chapmans figure out their next step, Lollie says she is grateful for the county changing some of its regulations.

Jake is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.