City said we can no longer replace homes in our MHP park

We built a small park in 1973. It only has 4 lots and they are 50‘x100‘ lots. Originally the idea was to only rent lots but over time we bought 2 of the homes and bought 2 others and had them moved in ourselves. The surrounding 35 acre area includes 3 other mobile home parks, an RV park, while the rest are private owned 1/2 acre lots with mobile homes.
Since 1973 we have been listed as a mobile home park with the county, have permits with the county health department and pay for annual inspections and have for years now. In 1973 the city did not have an inspection department. The last 2 trailers we moved in were permitted and inspected by the city as by then they had their own inspection department. . Another had an addition added to it and was permitted and inspected.

For the past 6 months developer has been trying to assemble all the properties within the 35 acres and obviously the city wants us out. As of now only a 1/4 of the people have agreed to sell and the others are adamant they have no plans to sell. The city has had plans for redevelopment in the area for over 5 years and now says that they cannot find any paperwork where the park itself or any of the trailers were ever permitted and therefore will not allow us to replace any of the trailers.
Are we not grand-fathered in? Can they just change the laws like that or can it be fought?

After several conversations with the head of zoning he agreed to let us replace the trailers but then checked the new set back rules and said we were limited to 35’… We ask about letting a RV rent a lot and he said NO!
Any ideas on what we might be able to do?

WE wanted to replace one because it needs a new roof and the floors are sagging on the outer edges…

PS, The new setbacks are 50’ from the the road to the front of the trailer and 15’ off the property line to the back of the trailer. 10’ between trailers and 4000sq feet per lot.

If they will give you a reasonable price, sell it

Not only is your property grandfathered, but your setbacks are as well. The city cannot pick and choose portions of their zoning ordinances to apply to your property as the usage is non-conforming.

It’s time for you to get a municipal lawyer to have an initial conversation with their attorney about how grandfathering works. In virtually every state in the USA grandfathering laws have held up when cities get overzealous like this. In a lot of cases this will get worked out when you get those guys talking to each other.

Here’s a good post from Frank on the topic: Putting the grandfathering concept to bed once and for all

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Parks that have no valid operating permit, or were not built in conformance with the prevailing laws of the time, have no protection under grandfathering, and you’d be surprised how many of those are out there.

First off I am sorry that I didn’t thank everyone for doing such wonderful work here at MHU…
Thank you!

Thanks for the comment Louvie. The negations are not going well at the moment. Somehow the first 30K offer seemed laughable when we knew 6 acres just a block from us on the main street was listed for 1.9M not counting the fact w will make more then that in 2 years!

Thanks for the advice and link Jhutson. After reading through the posts there, I found something interesting to investigate though… In a second post Frank mentions: “Parks that have no valid operating permit, or were not built in conformance with the prevailing laws of the time, have no protection under grandfathering, and you’d be surprised how many of those are out there.”

WE are digging for the 43 year old paperwork. We probably have very little. Over the 43 years there has been a total of 9 different homes on the 4 lots. All but the two we moved in were permitted by the original owners of the homes and the other 2 were permitted by myself not being the park owner. If I remember correctly on the two I permitted, the inspector just came out and glanced over the connections and signed them off. I remember the last inspector requiring a sticker or number plate from the original manufacturer (Champion). I know i do not have the original permits.

The park itself, I was very young then but remember my father having the grading work done, helping a little with the forming for the concrete pads. It doesn’t seem like the gas, electric company, nor the county water system would have made their connections without permits. I also know originally there was only 2 lots before we developed it and that the county plat shows 4 as it is now… We pay commercial water rates and at one time were being charged taxes on commercial property by the county for several years. I received one warning citation a couple of years ago for letting the grass get too high but don’t remember if it was to the park or not. We received a 96 on our last Environmental health inspection made out to the park. Oddly it was 6 points off for the trash cans which are provided by the city… So I am sure someone, somewhere should have some documents that have not been lost.

Now that I have found this wonderful site with such wonderful contributors, i will have many other questions such as should we just try to remodel the units or fight to replace them one at a time. But that will be for a different topic.

BTW we are in Kennesaw GA.

Thank you

I hope you keep us posted on this as it is most interesting. Suggest you join your statewide mh owner’s association and then talk to their attorney.

The burden of proof should be on the city and not you. You have the evidence of your park, the homes in the park, and their current setbacks. If they are contending that those setbacks were illegal back then, or that the park is illegal, then they should have challenged that 40 years ago. They have effectively set the precedent through inaction, just as most state’s property rights give your neighbor certain rights under adverse possession or constructive reliance. Even if they can produce something in writing dating from the time of your park’s construction that shows different setbacks, they will have a tough job explaining how they failed to enforce that for 40 years and just suddenly figured it out.

As other folks have said, you need to either sell the park or hire a good municipal lawyer. In over 20 years of owning parks – and probably 20 cases like this – we have always won without going to court BUT ONLY BECAUSE WE HIRED A REALLY GOOD LAWYER. If you hire one, let them be your quarterback and handle everything for you. But make sure you hire one with experience in dealing with cities and not just an average lawyer.

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