Judge Rules in Favor of MH Community Residents

The Lebanon Daily News in Lebanon, PA reports the residents of Northcrest Acres manufactured home community have won their lawsuit against community owner Palmyra Homes, Inc., which sought to force them to change the heating system in their homes as part of a new lease agreement. Most of the 200 homes have oil heating, which Palmyra wanted to alter for environmental reasons. The MHC owner gave the residents three options: Replace the oil burning unit with a gas furnace, convert the unit to propane, or install a double-walled safety oil tank. The costs to the residents ranged from $1,785 to $2,500, with the work to be done only by Leffler Energy Co., with whom Palmyra has had an exclusive agreement since 1982. In his ruling, Judge Bradford Charles said, “Requiring every resident to immediately change the nature of their home heating system without regard to the safety or utility of the existing home heating system strikes us as falling within the definition of ‘arbitrary.’ “ According to the Pennsylvania Manufactured Home Community Rights Act, rules cannot be “arbitrary or capricious”. Leffler owns the oil tanks, but Judge Charles’ ruling prohibits them from removing the tanks. Ed Coyle, attorney for the residents, said they can continue to use their current heating systems as long as they are code compliant. In his decision, Charles wrote, “No owner of a community should be permitted to suddenly and unexpectedly require all of its residents to expend thousands of dollars. Absent proof of an immediate risk to neighbors or the community itself, implementation of rules governing fuel storage should only be implemented over a reasonable period of time.” Palmyra owner Dale Yiengst said, “The order allows us to remove the tanks over time. Our concern is for safety, health, the environment and costs.” He has not yet discussed with his lawyer the possibility of an appeal.

(image credit Lebanon Daily News)

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