STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) – The owners of a Pennsylvania mobile home park should pay relocation expenses for residents who had to move after the park closed following its pending sale to a housing developer, the state attorney general’s office said Monday in a lawsuit.
The suit, filed in Centre County, asked the court to require the owners to pay or restore money to residents who were forced to relocate.
Attorney General Kathleen Kane said in the suit that Kenneth Mayes II and his sister, Sharon Mayes, violated the Manufactured Home Community Rights Act in closing Hilltop Mobile Home Park in State College on Feb. 28.
Kane’s office said in a statement that the law required $4,000 in relocation expenses to residents who moved a single section manufactured home and that the owners must buy out the homes of residents who are unable or unwilling to find a "reasonably suitable replacement site."
The Mayes siblings have an agreement to sell Hilltop to Indiana-based Trinitas Ventures for about $6 million, according to the lawsuit. Trinitas is a developer of student housing; the 30-acre Hilltop property is about 1 ½ miles from Penn State’s main University Park campus.
The Associated Press left messages seeking comment at phone numbers listed for the owners and for a Trinitas representative.
"The Mayes allegedly have provided relocation expenses to some mobile home owners, but not to others," the attorney general’s office said in a statement.
The lawsuit also asked the court to prevent the dissipation of the Mayes’ assets once the sale is completed.
About 100 residents lived at Hilltop. The park had about 80 homes last summer, when residents were first notified of the potential sale, said Matthew Rooke of the Hilltop Resident Association.
Rooke, who was a renter, has since moved. He said a handful of residents haven’t left yet.
"This is definitely good news for residents who were forced out and didn’t receive adequate compensation," Rooke said. "People own their homes but lose all their value when the park closes — people who can least afford to relocate."
The payments would only apply to residents who owned their manufactured home on site — though it would not apply to about 10 units owned by the Mayes family and rented out. Renters have certain rights, but not to the payments outlined in the complaint, an attorney general’s office spokeswoman said.
Trinitas in March asked the College Township Council last month to rezone the property to allow for a 275- to 300-unit housing complex geared toward college students, though a company representative said anyone could live there, according to the minutes of a March 7 council meeting. The request was forwarded to the local planning commission; the process could take at least six months before the council can take a vote on rezoning.