Due Dilligence - Pad count issues

Hi all.

I’ve got a MH park under contract that I am investigating. It’s another odd one. It’s got a mix of MHs and RVs. I talked with a planner in the county and they had an odd record of the seller adding 2 additional MH pads in the early 90s, and they mention 12 RVs. The language is not specific enough to determine if 12 more were added or 12 showed up at that date. There are 28 RVs on it today. It’s not clear what is legal and even the planner was confused. We have historical records that indicate septic/water for more than 12 units were put in back in the 70s/80s.

I’m not sure how to dig further to figure out the legality of the extra RVs and I don’t want the county suing me later on. The deal is a 15 cap that I can get up higher with improvements.

My other question is if this park was zoned MH, and it had RVs back in the 70s prior to being any rules, are those RV pads technically MH pads? No recreational taxes have ever been paid and many of the RVs have been sitting there since the 90s.

It was rezoned to light industrial a few years back so it is grandfathered in. I’m just not sure if all of the pads are conforming and the county was not very helpful in that determination.

Does anyone have any tips beyond taking the issue to a land-use attorney? I’m hoping I can get a reasonable answer first before I spend cash on legal.

First of all, you need a Certificate of Zoning from the city, which will set down in black and white if the property is legal conforming, legal non-conforming or illegal, and how many MH and RV units are officially allowed. Anything that is different on property from what is in the letter will be an immediate problem which an attorney will have to resolve with the city (you can try, but I doubt you’ll get anywhere on your own). You will also want a written list of current violations from the inspections department.

As for the RV vs. MH spaces, that again will fall back to the Certificate of Zoning. I would get everything in black and white before you buy the property, as you cannot risk having the city shut your down post-closing.

I’m not sure you will be able to get what you want without the use of a municipal lawyer, but you can try.

The DOH Office of Drinking Water just approved the property for up to 60 well hookups for RVs/MHs where it was previously only approved for 30 total.

Should I use that as an indication on the legality of the pads? I’ve read through the due dilligence guide.

I’m not getting straight answers from land development.

Who has the ultimate authority on pads? Is it the county or the DOH? If the county/planning department is clueless on how many pads are legal, is that a good sign?

You need to get a good municipal lawyer on this – you can’t use this type of speculation as a diligence method. Get a Certificate of Zoning, a list of all known violations, and if these two documents do not answer your questions 100%, then get a municipal lawyer to take over. When they come to shut you down, you need more than verbal statements as your evidence to back up your claims. Federal law does not allow a city or county to “play it loose” with zoning issues. It all ties back to the city/county ordinances and other legal materials. 2+2=4, even for city/county officials. They need to take a definitive legal stand – in writing – and then, if you do not agree with it, your attorney needs to push to get it amended. Warm fuzzy feelings do not work in a court of law.

Thank you Frank,

I found the DOH/planning history on the property today and it seemed clear on permitted lots. I’m fairly sure the seller knew about the lot limit. I think I also found a sunset provision with the rezoning/grandfathering.

Hi Frank,

Does the Certificate of Zoning specifically indicate the lot numbers even if the zoning has been changed and the previous land usage was grandfathered in?