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As the Community Turns… are Residents Hurting Themselves?

April 29th, 2017 Comments off
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East End Mobile Home Park. Credit: WAPO.

In a story that the Daily Business News has been following extensively, the saga of the East End Mobile Home Park in Manassas, Virginia has shown signs of hope.

But, the very residents that have fought to stay, may actually put themselves in a position to not be able to do that.

Last week, we reported that James Turner, an Alexandria lawyer and the owner of two other manufactured home communities, has stepped up to the plate with an offer to purchase the troubled community.

I’ve reached a tentative agreement with East End’s owner to buy the property, repair its malfunctioning sewer systemand manage it along with my other parks [sic],” said Turner.

The city of Manassas was set to purchase the community for $1.86 million from a trust controlled by Helen Loretta Clarke, who residents claim neglected the community’s sewage system to the point that unless residents took action themselves, sewage came up into their yards.

According to the Washington Post, the deal for Turner to purchase the community could be scuttled amid threats of a federal lawsuit from residents pushing for him to agree to a host of demands.

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James Turner. Credit: VTW Law firm.

I’ve never seen a land deal where the tenants tell me all the conditions where I’m able to buy, and that makes it very difficult,” said Turner.

The bid from Turner would need to be approved by the City of Manassas, and Patrick J. Small, the city’s director of economic development, said officials are willing to cancel that agreement if Turner can prove he has the money to buy the land and make the repairs.

The city would then require Turner to submit a plan for the repairs that Manassas engineers consider to be “reasonable, doable and achievable,” and a financial guarantee in the amount needed for those fixes that, should Turner back out of the purchase, the city could then use to make them,” said Small.

While discussions between Turner and Clarke’s representatives have progressed, they have been hampered by threats.

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A home at East End Mobile Home Park. Credit: Inside Nova.

Those threats would come in the form of a federal lawsuit by residents, if Turner doesn’t agree to 14 conditions put forth by them.

Among other things, the residents want lot fees at or below $600 per month for at least five years, a guarantee that the community’s crumbling roads would be fixed and plowed after snowstorms, and a new playground area.

Residents also want Turner to agree to help them try to buy East End themselves after five years if they choose to do so.

These are nonnegotiable demands,” said Victor M. Glasberg, a civil rights attorney in Alexandria, who recently started representing residents. “The paramount interest is living there under hygienic and reasonable circumstances.”

Glasberg also said that Dumfries-based nonprofit Catholics for Housing has also been preparing to purchase the community – and had already agreed to the demands.

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East End Residents attend a Manassas city meeting. Credit: Potomac Local.

That information was news to Karen DeVito, Catholics for Housing’s director.

I didn’t know there were demands being made,” said DeVito.

For Turner, he says that some of the residents’ requests either are not within his legal rights, or are unfeasible. He also feels that potentially being pulled into a federal lawsuit gives him pause.

I don’t want to step into past history,” said Turner. “I’m trying to deal in good faith.”

For more on the saga at the East End Mobile Home Park, click here. ##

 

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RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.

Update: Manufactured Home Community Eviction

March 28th, 2017 Comments off
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A home at East End Mobile Home Park. Credit: Inside Nova.

In an update to a story the Daily Business News has covered over the last few months, residents at the East End Mobile Home Park in Manassas, Virginia, have been given a reprieve from eviction, which was due to take place at the end of the month.

According to Inside Nova, families in the community will now get to stay in their homes until at least mid-June, giving a nonprofit who has an interest in buying the property more time to structure a deal with its owner.

The city is currently set to purchase East End for $1.86 million from a trust controlled by Helen Loretta Clarke, who residents claim has neglected the community’s sewage system to the point that unless residents took action themselves, sewage came up into their yards.

After the residents received a reprieve in early February to hold off the evictions, Jon Francis, the attorney representing the residents, was scheduled to square off with Clarke’s attorneys in court on March 24 in a hearing to determine if Clarke is responsible for the property’s condition.

Both sides asked for a delay of that proceeding, and retired District Court Judge Peter Steketee granted that request.

We’ve managed to hammer out the framework of a settlement agreement with the owner’s attorneys,said Francis.

On June 16th, we’ll reconvene for a status hearing on the case.”

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East End Residents attend a Manassas city meeting. Credit: Potomac Local.

What Francis and many residents are hoping for is a lifeline in the timeframe from Catholics for Housing, a Dumfries nonprofit.

The organization is working to reach a formal agreement to buy the property with Clarke and her trustee, Timothy Cope.

The nonprofit submitted a bid on the community earlier this month, and if it can hammer out a deal with Cope, they can ask the Manassas City Council to take a vote on backing away from the sale.

City officials have stressed that anyone interested in buying East End will need to have the funds to repair the park sewer system. That process alone could cost up to $1.5 million.

Catholics for Housing could get financial assistance on that front through the legal process,” said Francis.

While nothing is final yet, part of the settlement with the property owner’s attorneys could include an agreement to send some of the money held in escrow to Catholics for Housing to assist with repairs to the park [sic].”

It would be up to the judge, but it also depends on whether they want that money or not,” said Francis.

Catholics for Housing has not commented on their interest level in the community so far, outside of a letter to the city council earlier this month reiterating that it’s still investigating the situation.

The Daily Business News will continue to follow this story and provide updates. ##

 

(Image credits are as shown above.)

 

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RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.