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Spruces Owners Lay Out Demands
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
09:15PM / Monday, November 28, 2011
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The Board of Selectmen expressed concern over who would be responsible for moving abandoned mobile homes at the Spruces.

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Owners of the Spruces Mobile Home Park are asking a judge to make eight orders that are intended to clarify the park's future.

Morgan Management is taking the town and the state attorney general to Berkshire Superior Court next Tuesday and has listed eight demands that include putting a halt on further infrastructure work until a plan for the park's future is developed, give residents 30 days to state their intentions and allow the company to take steps to consolidate the park.

There has been much speculation on the park's future since it was washed out by Hurricane Irene. The company filed suit in response to multiple residents going to housing court to force the company to restore power to the homes after the company said the electrical infrastructure was too damaged to immediately repair.

"If these orders go through they will define who will stay and who will go," Town Manager Peter Fohlin told the Selectmen on Monday.

The company wants to know if residents who haven't returned are abandoning their property. The company is also asking residents to take responsibility for removing abandoned trailers within that 30-day time period. At the same time, the company would halt work on the infrastructure and create a plan that could include moving the trailers into a smaller space. Much of the newer, western section of the park was the most heavily damaged.

Morgan Management also is asking the town to force out eight residents who may be living in condemned homes. While some of the homes Morgan Management listed in court documents have since been approved for occupancy, Fohlin said he has an updated list of residents who are allegedly living in their homes illegally.

"The only item that is directed to the town is the one asking us to remove residents from condemned homes," Fohlin said. "We're a little between a rock and a hard spot now that Morgan is taking us to court."

Fohlin also expressed concern with the company's request that would allow them to "reorder, relocate and consolidate" the park because it would "bypass" state building codes. The homes are not currently conforming to state building codes because they are in a flood plain. A trailer that is moved or constructed now must fit in with the codes that would require the homes to be above floodwaters — as high as 12 feet in the air in some parts of the park. The order would rid the residents and the company of that responsibility.

Morgan Management is also asking for the state for a reprieve from pressures while the future of the park is being planned and another order would require the residents to remove "non-ordinary" trash that washed up in the storm. However, Fohlin said the town and the Spruce's Tenants Association have already removed that trash.

Members of the Board of Selectmen voiced concern over contacting the residents and over who will have to pay for the homes to be moved. Fohlin said the town's attorney does not think Morgan's request of giving residents 30 days to decide their intentions will be ordered and that the lawsuit does not specify who would pay for the relocation of the homes.

Board members were also concerned that the residents will not be represented in court. While the tenants could hire an attorney and file a motion to intervene, Fohlin reminded the board members that the Attorney General Martha Coakley's office will be representing the residents.

In other news, three establishments failed liquor compliance checks and the Selectmen have asked the license owners to speak to the board at the next meeting. Olympic Pizza, Hobson's Choice and Saigon Vietnamese Restaurant all failed the compliance checks.

"I think we need to make it clear that this is a serious issue for us," Selectman David Rempell said.
Morgan Injunctive Relief

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