City forcing out mobile home parks

I’m actually posting this to see if I can get some good information to help some friends.

Their family has owned a mobile home park since the 1950’s in our small midwestern town (Kansas). In 1998 a flood ravaged the park and the existing water utility structure. It all had to be replaced. To do this they had to take out a federal loan for around $300k. The loan is about two-thirds paid back. The patriarch of the family passed away in 2011. The mother was left to manage the park. Her two sons are my friends.

They have been trying to sell the park for the past few years. A couple of deals have fallen through due to issues with the buyers. Most recently a potential buyer signed contracts but in the course of due diligence was told by the city government (the park is within city limits) that no new mobile homes can be added to the park. My friends’ family had never heard of this. We got with the city and were provided zoning regulations that were put into place in the year 2000. The city did this without any sort of notification to my friends’ family and without any sort of input from them.

Not only have new homes (used, not brand new) been added to the park many times since the flood in 1998 the three other existing parks within city limits have added new homes and tenants as well. Nobody from the city has ever said a word about this. In fact the city inspected and permitted these new homes as has always been required by the zoning regulations.

Now the city doesn’t want to play ball. They are standing firm that no new homes can be added to the park. Not only that they also say that any homes removed from the park cannot be replaced. In essence they are choke-holding this family into closing the park. The city manager stated this in so many words. “The city does not want the mobile home park in that location.”

I really don’t understand how this can even be legal. How can a city government legally get away with purposefully causing considerable financial losses to a business in the town?

When I lived in Colorado I saw this sort of thing go down in several mountain communities. Summit County, in particular. At this point it seems that since this family does not have the money to develop the park into permanent housing their only option is to sell the land to a developer. The roads in the park are not city streets, they are privately maintained. No curbs, striping or anything of that sort. They are at least paved. A permanent housing developement would require complete destruction and rebuild of the utility structure and turning the roads into city streets. This alone would cost well over one million dollars and the park is worth only maybe half that amount. The land by itself, 20 acres, is worth maybe $200k, barely more than what they still owe on the federal loan from 1998.

What would you do? Challenge the city zoning regulations? Take your fight public? Hire an out of state attorney? I would not recommend to them hiring any local attorneys as they would all be in the city’s pocket.

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This is not a rare occurrence in the park business - it’s likely time to hire attorney.

Often in situations like this the city is on weak legal ground, but you’ll need to pay for an attorney to take over and get it cleared up. How much it costs may depend on how quickly the city folds and how far the attorney has to push things.

Thanks, that is what I figured. How unfortunate that badwill is going to be created through this situation. We all love our town and it wasn’t the current leaders who created this mess but it is going to be a very public battle that will not look good for them.

Search Google for the Kansas Manufactured Housing Association and call them. They will definitely want to know as I think these associations are dealing with this in increasing numbers nowadays.

I am doing the same for a park I’m looking at in Illinois and I’ve had a couple of very productive conversations with the rep there.

There are at least 6 state supreme court decisions decided in the past several years for this exact issue, with all of them ruling in favor of the Park owner over the municipality. Search for the Pearl case in Mississippi if you want to get some good info on this.

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Thank you! I will search for those decisions.