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Spruces Court Case Continued While Settlement Is Sought
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
03:00AM / Wednesday, January 18, 2012
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The park was built in a floodplain. During Hurricane Irene, the overflowing river damaged the infrastructure so badly that the entire park was ruled uninhabitable.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The court case between the owners of the Spruces Mobile Home Park, the town and the state attorney general has been continued again as the parties seek a settlement.

The case that will help define each party's role and the future of the park after it was flooded during Hurricane Irene — leaving nearly 300 people homeless — was originally scheduled for Dec. 6, 2011. It was then pushed back to Dec. 13, and later delayed until Jan. 17.

According to court documents on Jan. 4, which are available below, the parties agreed to again delay the hearing because they are still negotiating a settlement and the property is still being affected by the hurricane's fallout.

Park owners Morgan Management listed eight issues that it hoped to settle in court. Those include putting a halt on infrastructure work until the park's future is known, giving residents 30 days to state their intentions on residences and to be allowed to consolidate the park. The company hopes to force out residents who are living there illegally and divvy up the responsibilities of all parties.

The retirement community's future is still in flux with homes slowly being reoccupied. However, the end of the road is near, according to town officials, and it looks like only about a third of the mobile homes will be restored.

As of Friday, 67 of the condemned homes were removed, 22 others received demolition permits and 61 homes are reoccupied. Three additional homes are expected to be reoccupied soon but beyond that, town officials have received no indication on whether more than 100 trailers would be repaired.

Morgan Management previously indicated that 80 percent of the park needs to be occupied to make the venture economically viable — hinting that it may be forced to close the park. However, the owners are seeking, through this lawsuit, to condense the park into a smaller area.

The next scheduled court date is April 17. Meanwhile, the town's Affordable Housing Committee and the recently formed Higher Ground nonprofit is searching for properties around town to build additional homes for its elderly and low-income population.
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