First Park Turn-Around

I am in the process of purchasing my first park. 65 spaces and has city services. The park is grandfathered in to the city but the city is requiring that we rezone in order to permit any new homes. Currently the park is operating at 80% occupancy so we feel comfortable negotiating with the city to rezone in accordanance with the SUP that we will submit.

Our operational plan is as follows:

  1. Rezone park to MHP zoning
  2. Implement new water line to meet city fire code with fire hydrants and 8" water main through property
  3. W.L. Will be built to city standards, pressure tested and turned over to city ownership in which they will then be in charge for ultility billing and maintenance of line for the life of the infrastructure. (will dedicate easement to city for this).
  4. Improve existing asphalt road and repair pot holes
  5. Implement park rules and regulations
  6. Conduct tree removal and pruining, will allow for additional lots to be established which will be accounted for in the site plan and SUP.
  7. All utilities will be become park tenants responsibility.

All in expected capital expenditure on improvements, currently slated at $350k.

Any advice on this plan and or past experiences would be much appreciated.

All the best,

M.B.J.

Before you start … stop.

Your park is legal non-conforming and you have no requirement to do anything to meet current ordinances – only what was in effect when it was built. Seven states have taken this to the Supreme Court and the park owner has won each time. The most recent was Mississippi. Here’s the link to that case http://caselaw.findlaw.com/ms-supreme-court/1701083.html.

In fact, if you make that SUP application, you may lose your rights under grandfathering because you are altering what you already had.

BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING get a hold of a real municipal lawyer (one that sues city hall all the time) and let him get with the city and explain the law and the fact that they have no control over you and you are going to sue them as a city (and all council members individually if necessary) for violating your rights as a non-conforming use. The damages would be huge and trebled in most cases.

Cities pull this nonsense on us all the time, and we have defeated every one of them without ever having to go to court, by hiring a strong attorney and letting him talk one-on-one with the city’s attorney (who knows better and has no desire to litigate).

So you need to get a lot more information and guidance before you even think about taking the steps you outlined.

1 Like

Thanks for the warning. Currently I have been in discussions with the city for over a month now and they continue to provide extremely vague feedback on their requirements, even retracting from previous agreements (hence why I am reaching out to the forum).

I can appreciate the fear of re-zoning but if it provides the ability to increase lots and restructure the park in a more efficient manner then could it be beneficial to do so or is this risk too great to endure? Have you ever rezoned a park before throughout all of your experiences?

I certainly question the cities guidance and their overall intentions for having us rezone but I can also see where it would be viewed as a “win/win” for both parties.

I agree with your suggestion of seeking a municipal council and we are already in the process of identifying representation.

Again I appreciate the advice,

M.B.J.

If the mere act of filing the application negates the grandfathering, then I’d never take the shot.

If it does not, I’m still not sure I’d do it, as I potentially question the economics. Let’s say it allows you to build 20 more spaces by doing so, then you’d have $350,000 in alterations to current park, and around $20,000 per space in construction and pad preparation (this depends on your topography as well as installation requirements), so you’d have $750,000 invested in those 20 spaces. If your lot rent was $300 per month and the park pays water and sewer, each occupied lot is worth $21,600 at a 10% cap rate, and you lost around $350,000 if you sold the park the day after building those lots. To expand a park successfully, you need zero cost from the existing property, easy topography and installation cost ($15,000 per lot or so) and high lot rents ($400 and up). But you may have those things and, if so, disregard what I just said.

Out of over 250 parks we’ve collectively owned over the past 20 years, we have only expanded probably 10 to 15 of those.

Hello, I was at the LV boot camp this year. This park I have under contract in KS is dealing with a setback issue. An old home was removed from the lot closest to the street and the city says that it cannot be replaced because it doesn’t meet the setback laws. This park is from the 60’s. Is that reasonable or should I easily be able to get a new home in? I can also be reached at eamon@breencommunity.com

Thanks!

Frank,

Can you expand on the seven states? Was Texas one of these?