Thursday, October 27, 2016

Heat From State Environmental Police Over Failing & Overburdened Wastewater Treatment System Serving 59-Unit Mobile Home Park Compels Landlord/Park Operator To Serve Eviction Notices To Entire Community; Neighboring Parks Refuse To Accept Older Trailers, Leaving Many Lot-Leasing Homeowners Holding The Bag

In Shawnee, Oklahoma, Red Dirt Report reports:
  • Residents of Rolling Acres Mobile Home Park were outraged [] when they received a 60-day eviction notice. They are considering a lawsuit after Shawnee attorney Kent Massey invited them to discuss their legal options [].

    In March, Red Dirt Report found that the mobile home park’s lagoon [ie. wastewater treatment system] was overburdened with too many residents on the system. It was leaking less than a mile from the North Canadian River.

    The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) had received complaints and served the owner, Stephen H. Sanders with a consent order requiring the lagoon system be fixed in order to continue operations of the park. The order provided a scheduled list of improvements and fined Sanders $6,000. If he did not comply, he could be charged up to $60,000.

    Fifty-nine homes are hooked into a lagoon system which currently should only accommodate approximately 15 mobile homes.
    ***
    There have [] been recent homeowners allowed to move onto the property. Whitney Kucera and her partner, Robert Vanzant said they were not told about the lagoon problem when they moved there in June. “We paid $20,000 to buy it and fix it up, cash,” said Vanzant.

    “We had a settlement from a DUI accident,” said Kucero who used the cash to pay for the residence. “Now we don’t have anything. And I’m trying to get my kids back from DHS. How am I going to do that without a house?”

    “We don’t have anything left,” said Vanzant.

    Residents said conditions have deteriorated over the years, including the water quality.

    “When you take a shower, it burns your eyes,” said Courtney Armstrong. “And the water smells like sewage.”

    Sherita Chaffin has MS, a heart condition, and COPD. “The water is so nasty. I got a bacterial infection and had to go to the ER. They told me, ‘Stay away from that well water,’” Chaffin said.

    Many facing ‘no place to go’

    Most residents agree to a rent-to-own purchase of the trailer and therefore are responsible for all repairs. Many don’t stay long enough to pay for the home, so the trailers go largely unrepaired and in worse condition for the next rent-to-own buyer.

    With the hope of home ownership, residents often decide to pay it off and then fix it up. Others purchased their homes from Sanders outright or moved trailers onto the property they purchased. Now, it doesn’t seem to matter.

    “Where am I going to go,” asked Chaffin. “I get $700 a month. Even if my trailer can be moved, I don’t have the money.”

    After checking with other mobile home parks, it seems trailers older than 10 years are not allowed to be moved onto other communities. Fewer land developers and individual land sellers are willing to sell to mobile homeowners and there are city ordinances that don’t allow mobile homes inside city limits.
    ***
    The eviction at Rolling Acres comes at a bad time, as disheartened residents don’t know how they’re going to get through the holidays. They don’t know how they will have enough money to find another place to live and celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas.

    “He [Sanders] ought to be the one to come out here and tell these kids they won’t get any Christmas,” said Sherita Chaffin. “Those poor little kids.”

    Owner selling park

    Sanders said [] Rolling Acres mobile home park is for sale, but according to the DEQ consent order it appears that selling the property would not make the problem go away. It reads: “No change in the ownership or corporate status of Respondents will affect Respondent’s responsibilities under this order.”

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