ROWAN COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ) – People living in a mobile home park in Morehead have to be out of their homes by Friday night, or face possible eviction because the property is being sold with plans to turn it into a retail development.
Friday afternoon, the people who live in the mobile home park made one final push calling on the mayor and other city officials to give people more time and money to move.
Kentucky Equal Justice Center Attorney Ben Carter says he looked into the situation because he felt something wasn’t right after people who live in the North Fork trailer park complained they weren’t given adequate notice they were being forced out and didn’t have any say-so, or the money to move.
Carter sent a 12-page letter to the mayor of Morehead, city council, the trailer park landlord and the Lexington developer who’s contracted to buy the property. He outlines what he says are violations of state law.
“This is just not right,” Sue Hamilton, a former resident of North Fork said. She moved and now says she is facing financial hardship. Hamilton is one of the dozens of people who have to leave their home now or face eviction.
“We deserved more to be prepared to be able to afford to move and I wouldn’t have had to sell my home for nothing,” Hamilton said.
She and other people who live in the trailer park have been rallying and calling for the city to listen to their plea for more time and money to move.
They say they were given written notices on April 30 and 1,000-dollars for the cost of moving trailers.
“We owned our trailers, so we were paying $125 a month and now we’re going to $1200, $1500 plus utilities,” resident Randi Harper said. “We may maintain it for a month or two, but what happens after that? How many of us are going to end up homeless?”
Carter says he sees violations of state law and the constitution with the development agreement. He says the city failed to consider the impact of people being displaced, didn’t give proper notice or hold a public hearing on the proposed development, among other violations.
“The constitution and the statutes require that the local government do their homework, and they didn’t do their homework here,” Carter said.
Among those listed in Carter’s 12-page open letter is Lexington developer Patrick Madden and his Polo 1 operation. He is contracted to buy the land after everyone is gone.
In a statement, Madden said:
“Polo 1 has executed contractual documents with Fraley Commercial Properties to purchase the land where North Fork Trailer Park is currently located once the trailers are removed from the site. In the due diligence phase of the negotiation of these contract documents, public meetings where held wherein all matter were discussed including the availability of other locations for the movement of trailers and funds being provided to existing tenants to assist in the moving of the trailers.
Polo 1 recognizes that the closure of the existing trailer park is a community decision. Polo 1 received nothing but positive feedback at the numerous public hearings. Now, unfortunately, there are current residents who feel they are not being treated fairly.
Polo 1 does not have the landlord/tenant relationship with the current residents. As such, any involvement with the closure of the park by Polo 1 is prohibited by Kentucky law (i.e. tortious interference with an existing contractual relationship). Therefore, all matters relating to the closing of the park are the responsibility of the current landlord, Fraley Commercial Properties. From the very beginning, this specific issue was made abundantly clear by Polo 1: It was not Polo 1’s desire or intent to be involved with the decision to close the trailer park or the termination of the existing month-to-month leases.
Polo 1 is not conspiring, plotting, or working in conjunction with any party to close down/terminate leases in the North Fork Trailer Park. If the park is not vacated and there isn’t an amicable closure of the park after a reasonable amount of time, then Polo 1 will not embark on its planned development designed to create new employment base for the City/County of Morehead.
It is unfortunate this wasn’t brought out last fall during Polo 1’s contract due diligence phase, as then Polo 1 could have become more directly involved in the procedure for closing down the park. If, however, the community does not want Polo 1’s investment, then it certainly isn’t trying to force itself on the community.”
Organizers say some people have already moved out of the trailer park, while others plan to stay until they’re forced out. They say legal action will be taken if the city doesn’t respond by the end of the weekend.
WTVQ reached out to the mayor and city council members Friday afternoon, but haven’t heard back yet. We previously spoke to the landlord as part of our ongoing coverage and she refused to comment.