Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Residents in Utah community facing ouster
Mobile home park residents plead case:
Million-dollar houses may displace them from Cottonwood Heights
By Cathy McKitrick
The Salt Lake Tribune
Salt Lake Tribune
COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS - Residents of a mobile home park facing displacement by an upscale developer made a desperate plea for help Wednesday to the city's Planning Commission.
Developer John Gust, president of Arbor Residential Properties, recently purchased the 20-acre Meadows Mobile Home Park at 7800 S. Siesta Drive, with plans to build million-dollar homes on the prime property.
To do so means displacing 156 households. Gust has given them until March 31 to move out. The hearing at Butler Middle School was over Gust's request to rezone the property
Meadows resident Brian Godfrey said that 274 people are affected by the sale of the 50-year-old park to Gust. Most of the residents believed the area was protected by a family trust and would remain a mobile-home community in perpetuity.
"There are many in the park who have no means to move their homes. Those homes will be fodder for the bulldozer," Godfrey said. Some of the mobile homes were built before 1976 and federal law says they cannot be moved to other parks.
Susan Johnston, president of the Meadows residents association, asked for more time and resources - and requested that any promises be put in writing.
"It costs up to $10,000 to move these homes. This is an extreme hardship," she said. "Many of these residents will be bankrupt and some of the senior citizens will lose their independence."
Johnston asked that Gust's deadline be extended to June 30 because movers cannot transport the homes between October and January.
Several residents from upscale homes on streets bordering the Meadows also voiced their opinions about the rezoning, which would allow two homes per acre rather than one.
"I'm very much opposed to downsizing," said Paula Rutter, who has lived in the area for 25 years and savors its open feel. "We've invested a lot of time and money and have a lot at stake. Once you take rural, you never get it back."
However, the situation for the Meadows residents was much more dire than their neighbors.
"When people have the means to buy larger homes, they can put those anywhere," said Leslie Smith, a Meadows resident and single mom. "But when they push us out, our resources shrink and we may never recover."
The commission will not make any decisions on the rezoning request until Oct. 4.