Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2007

County’s last trailer park to close

New Germantown development still years away

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Residents of Germantown’s Middlebrook Mobile Home Park, the last trailer park in the county, will be pulling up their roots sometime in the next several years to make room for new development.

Bozzuto Homes plans to build mixed-use development at the site, just off Frederick Road near the Fox Chapel Shopping Center, said Clark Wagner, vice president of the Greenbelt-based company Bozzuto Homes. Wagner told county planners and residents about the development at a Nov. 13 meeting to discuss the update to the Germantown master plan.

Wagner said that the deal was still in its early stages and that it would be three or four years until the project gets underway. Bozzuto and park owner K & T Properties are still considering development options, he said. Affordable multi-family housing, such as an apartment building, is a possibility.

Representatives from K & T Properties, of Savage, did not return calls for comment. Wagner said the company would retain ownership.

Residents of the 25-acre community rent land at the park, and most own their own homes, he said.

‘‘The current owner of the park will be working with us to make sure that no one’s lives are disrupted to a great extent,” he said.

Due to restrictive zoning in many areas, few new mobile home parks are opening, and older parks across the country are being purchased for redevelopment, according to a November NuWire Investor article.

‘‘It’s a question of time, no doubt about that, before this man sells,” John Williams, a 25-year resident of the park, said of the property owner Saturday morning during a break from raking leaves.

Cider Barrel Mobile Home Park, formerly located in Germantown on Frederick Road, closed in October 2003 to make way for garden-style apartments. The Eton Square townhouse community opened in May on the former site of two parks, the Montgomery Mobile Village and the Oakcrest Mobile Home Park, both also located in Germantown on Frederick Road.

‘‘If you look up and down that whole corridor... you have a situation where folks had access to more affordable housing, and that affordable housing has disappeared,” Councilman Michael J. Knapp (D-Dist. 2) of Germantown said Monday.

Homeowners had not heard of plans to redevelop the property, said five-year resident Ana Zimmer, whose husband has lived in the park for 16 years.

‘‘What about all the money you put into your trailer?” she asked, adding that she had recently replaced her furnace and other appliances. ‘‘Where are people going to go?”

By state law, a property owner must give residents at least 12-months notice before the trailer park closes and provide a relocation plan, which can include financial assistance.

In July, the Montgomery County Council enacted a law that gives mobile home park residents the right to purchase the property on which their homes sit should the owner decide to sell. The bill requires the park’s owner to grant the county, the Housing Opportunities Commission and a tenant organization the opportunity to purchase the property before making it available to any other buyer, a process known as the right of first refusal.

Right of first refusal would only apply if the property is sold to another owner, said Knapp, a co-sponsor of the bill.