Michigan Mobile Home Park Evolving into RV Park
Huron County Road Commission officials in Michigan’s “Thumb” met with the Huron County Board of Commissioners Tuesday (Feb. 16) to discuss the decision future plans for the Caseville County Park, which include having mobile homes removed from the park by November 2014, according to The Huron Daily Tribune.
Huron County Road Commission Trustee Michael Power said as it stands, mobile homes worth around $5,000 are being sold for upward of $50,000 because individuals are purchasing the homes for the lot they sit on in the county park. However, that lot is owned by Huron County and leased to mobile home owners on a year-to-year basis.
While there is a waiting list to reserve the seasonal slots in the mobile home section of the park, individuals have been able to circumvent waiting for a spot to open by purchasing an existing mobile home in the park as they are put up for sale by current leasors. The individual purchasing the home then gets to retain the lease and gets first dibs on keeping their spot as the lease comes up for renewal.
This practice, which has been going on for decades, results in the mobile home owners determining who gets in and out of the park, Power said.
He noted some of the most recent mobile homes are as large as 60 by 80 feet, which resemble more of a home or cottage than a camping unit.
Because the true intent of the county park is to be a camping park, road commission officials said they felt the most fair way to transform the park to an RV park from a mobile home park is to give individuals five years to plan accordingly.
If the individuals want to stay in the park, they would have to remove their trailer from the park and then purchase an RV or park model. A park model is a recreational unit built on a single chassis mounted on wheels that has a gross trailer area of not more than 400 square feet in the setup mode.
Road commission officials reported the move will create roughly 30 more spots in the park for RVs. Power said the projected cost of the transformation is between $200,000 and $400,000, and the road commission expects pay back from the transformation.
Road Commission Vice Chairman John Hunt noted having mobile homes removed from the park has been discussed over the past 20 years. He said most recently, road commission officials met with a group of residents interested in improving the Caseville County Park Beach in December, and the issue was brought up then.
Hunt noted the road commission expected there to be some unhappiness from mobile home owners, as this same situation occurred at Oak Beach a few years ago. However, he said, the road commission has not meant to disrupt people too severely, and people are not being immediately thrown out of the park.
If individuals chose to stay in the park and do purchase an RV or park model, road commission officials said the models will be approved by the road commission so as to avoid the situation that currently exists in the park — i.e. having large units that look more like a cottage than a camping unit.
The sales of RVs on the seasonal lots will be policed through the road commission office so if a unit’s being sold, the lot goes to the next person on the waiting list, not the RV’s purchaser.
“They can’t sell the site anymore,” said Huron County Road Commission Secretary-Manager Neal Hentschl.
Commissioners Kurt Damrow and Steve Vaughan were concerned because there were no engineering drawings or formal plans outlining the work that will be done once the mobile homes are removed.
Road commission officials responded that there is a conceptual plan, and the road commission is willing to put that in writing for the board’s review.
As for a concrete project design, road commission officials said it is impossible to have that in writing as the work more than likely will not be able to be completed all at once. That is because mobile homes owners have the option of staying in the park for the next five years. As a result, areas more than likely will have to be cleared/prepared in pieces, rather than clearing out the entire 72-lot area and working on the utility hookups and other work all at once.
“Until they’re gone, we don’t really know how it’s all going to work,” Hunt said.
Damrow was concerned that the absences left by the mobile home owners won’t be filled, given the economy. He asked if the 87 individuals on the waiting list for seasonal sites in the park would be willing to make a first-year deposit to show they truly are committed, and road commission officials said they are sure they would.
Commissioner John Horny said this seems like a fairness issue, and that the mobile home owners have been taking advantage of what the county is providing by having/selling a cottage in the county’s park.
“It’s a little unfair to the rest of the population,” he said.
But Damrow noted that individuals still will be able to get a spot on prime location with the transformation of the park. That is because the mobile home area isn’t going to be transformed into a cleared field; it’s going to be transformed to hold more camping units, he said.
Damrow asked road commission officials if there are any other spots in the park that could be modified to house RVs so the county wouldn’t lose the 72 mobile home customers. Hunt responded it’s unlikely and would be much more expensive, considering the utility infrastructure doesn’t exist.
Hunt went on to ask county commissioners what they want in regard to this situation.
“If there is a concern from this board, let us know what your wishes are and we will follow them,” he said.
Commissioners did not specify any alternative action, though Vaughan and Damrow did state they want to see some sort of plan in writing.
Also, Vaughan asked whether the road commission considered doing the transformation in phases, such as having mobile homes removed in rows over the course of five years.
Hunt said the road commission didn’t feel it would be fair to require some mobile homeowners to remove their trailer two or three years before other mobile homeowners have to do the same.