“I built a nice home for the kids and it’s just taken from me, it’s just taken,” said Eric Jurgensen, who owns a home in a Jefferson County, Missouri manufactured home community that is in the middle of a battle over sewer services impacting nearly two dozen other families. “Somebody not doing their job is causing me to put my family in another state of flux which isn’t fair.”
The troubling scenario is one of several that are playing out day by day in mainstream media. In this specific instance, KMOV, St Louis Today, and a range of other regional media have picked the story up in a manner that underscores the obvious injustice to the residents involved. But numbers of such stories fail to grasp all of the nuances that exist that when combined with other reports about manufactured home living leave a less than favorable impression about manufactured housing with the general public.
As important, often the rights of the property owner and/or the rights of manufactured homeowners and residents are under duress.
At the same time, there are instances that MHProNews have previously covered where land owners and/or public officials are working stealthily with a redeveloper. They may utilize as a pretense or cover an authentic issue that might be resolvable if good will and sufficient resources and resolve were involved; but due to a publicly unstated desire to close a community for redevelopment purposes, a public ‘battle’ occurs which effectively results in the eviction of residents under the pretext of health issues.
It is no easy to determine at this time what the scenario is at this specific property.
With that backdrop for industry professionals, investors, researchers and others, here are additional claims and statements made, per KMOV.
“News 4 [i.e.: KMOV] Investigates learned this comes amid a long running dispute over a sewer line between the property owner and the city of Arnold, leaving families stuck in the middle.
According to the Arnold City Administrator Bryan Richison, someone reported a leak in an above-ground-sewage line that ran over a creek and to the Ozark Hills mobile home park.
Richison says crews confirmed the leak Friday morning and by 7 a.m. he okayed contractors to rip out the line.
“It’s a very serious situation and we needed to get it fixed as soon as possible,” Richison explained.
Crews removed the line and stopped sewer. They did not run a temporary line, leaving the homes in the mobile home park inhabitable since city ordinance requires sewer service.
“We needed to move quickly, it’s a very old pipe,” Richison said. “I don’t know if you could safely put a temporary pipe in.”
The line is a well-known problem. It’s been deteriorating for years and has been at the center of a long-running dispute between the city and property owner. Both claim the other is responsible for the line.
“The city had always repaired this section of sewer line,” said Rob Rosenfeld, who owns the land and leases spots to mobile homeowners.
Rosenfeld says he wasn’t told about the leak until after the city started ripping out the sewer line Friday.
He believes it’s the city’s job to maintain the line. Rosenfeld says there was a mediation planned for next Monday to talk about ownership.
“The exposed section of the sewer line in question is on their part of the property, we were given no easement to go on their side of the property, technically we don’t even have a legal right to fix the line,” Rosenfeld explained.
Without a sewer line, Rosenfeld explained they cut water to the park to prevent the sewage from backing up into people’s homes.
While the city first learned about the leak Thursday night, residents in the Ozark Hills Mobile home park say they found out Friday afternoon when notices were put on their doors telling them they couldn’t live in the homes.
News 4 Investigates asked the city if there is a plan to help displaced residents find new homes, the city said there is nothing in place.
“No water, no sewer, What are they gonna do? I don’t feel like that’s fair,” said David Edwards, who had to pay for a motel room for himself, his friend, and two kids. …” The balance of the report can be found at this link here. The video below is from that same news source.
Additional Information More MHProNews Analysis and Commentary in Brief
Based on the information provided by regional media and information found on LinkedIn, this specific location appears to be owned by Robert “Bob” Rosenfeld. Rosenfeld, per his LinkedIn information, which is normally provided by the person involved, has: “Acquired and presently own and operate 6 manufactured housing communities in Missouri, Colorado and Florida, through related entities.” This location is in Missouri.
Rosenfeld’s profile indicates he has an extensive history in business and is an attorney. Several of these insights were not provided by mainstream media reports.
Properties like this one are routinely eschewed by manufactured home community (MHC) REITs, MHC consolidators, and other manufactured home community portfolio operators.
While the details of this particular property’s drama are not entirely clear, in some scenarios that may superficially appear to be similar to this one, an unstated redevelopment deal may be in the works. There are times when a property owner and public officials de facto collude to get residents ejected from their homes in a more rapid fashion by failing to address necessary health, safety, infrastructure, and utility issues. If the parties involved swiftly and reasonably resolve this dispute, that appears to be in the best interests of the residents there. But if there is no swift resolution, the question of kabuki theatrics on behalf of a possible redevelopment deal ought to be part of the questions put to those involved.
This property is why manufactured home community residents often need representatives working on their behalf.
If this property’s owner is authentically being disadvantaged, this is a reason why smaller businesses in manufactured housing need an authentic third-party post-production trade group to advise and intervene as necessary.
Whatever the specific dynamics in this instance, there are those who are apparently lacking effective representation for their interests. MHProNews has made the point for some years that the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) purports to represent “all segments” of manufactured housing. They clear do not represent the interests of residents, despite this parting advice from a prior MHI president and CEO.
Nor is it unique to claim or assert MHI only authentically represents the interests of larger firms. As a parallel, a former executive with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce made a similar claim; namely, that smaller businesses are not authentically represented by the U.S. Chamber. See what Dr. Richard Rahn, Ph.D., the former chief economist for the Chamber had to say.
The fact that organizations such as the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) or the Job Creators Network (JCN) exist are additional evidence that the thousands of firms involved in those trade groups don’t have confidence that the U.S. Chamber would protect them.
Whatever the specifics are between this community’s public officials and this property owner, the overall interests of residents and independents are negatively impacted by this kind of perhaps avoidable drama.
There are certainly closures, or the risk of same, for reasons that are troubling but at least more straightforward.
MHI member Paul Bradley, with ROC USA, once quipped to our publication that the message that owning a manufactured home is as comforting as being told that there is a 1 in a 100 chance of being eaten by a lion helps explain why more people don’t consider manufactured home living. See arguably connected topics linked herein. MHProNews plans to monitor this and similar developments and report as deemed appropriate. ###
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By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHProNews.com.
Tony earned a journalism scholarship and earned numerous awards in history and in manufactured housing.
For example, he earned the prestigious Lottinville Award in history from the University of Oklahoma, where he studied history and business management. He’s a managing member and co-founder of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.
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