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Mobile home parks inspected: Willmar finds 120 homes of 207 in compliance

Mobile homes at Regency Estates East are among those inspected by the city of Willmar to ensure compliance with ordinances. (Tribune photo by Ron Adams)

WILLMAR -- The city is making progress on bringing the 207 mobile homes at Regency East and Regency West Parks into compliance with exterior maintenance and storage requirements.

Of the 207 homes inspected by Planning and Development Services Department staff, 120 homes are in compliance with exterior maintenance ordinances as of Friday, with 87 not in compliance, according to Bruce Peterson, department director. He said 102 were cited for exterior storage violations.

The city began a sweep of the parks late this summer. Department staff walked through the parks and through every property to visually inspect each home.

"This began because the city was well aware that the parks were deteriorating and we just had to get to a point where we had the staff resources and the time available to get in there and do a good saturation effort,'' said Peterson in an interview.

The maintenance problems included homes with only one operable door, boarded-up windows, plastic covering windows, missing glass, missing pieces of siding, illegal additions and skirting built with non-weather resistive materials, and roofs needing repair.

"We weren't looking at them if we thought they needed a coat of paint or something,'' he said. "That was a pretty minor issue. These were homes where the lack of exterior maintenance was contributing to structural deterioration.''

Peterson said many mobile homes have been removed. He said some homes were so badly deteriorated that they had to be torn apart to be removed rather than pulled out. Some were abandoned, some were destroyed by fire and some for a variety of reasons were uninhabitable.

He said park management has worked to demolish homes. Most of the homes that have been demolished were located in the east park, said Peterson.

He reported on the compliance effort during the Thursday evening meeting of the City Council's Community Development Committee.

Warren Erickson of Willmar, developer of the nearby Trentwood residential area, told the committee he was concerned about the 42 percent of mobile homes not in compliance and he urged the city to continue its enforcement.

"The problem did not happen overnight,'' said Erickson. "It comes down to management and ownership.''

Peterson said mobile homes are still a needed type of housing.

"We want the homes and parks maintained,'' he said.

Before homes will be allowed into the parks, a determination will be made whether the sites have adequate fire protection because the parks lack hydrants to adequately fight fires, he said.

In other business, the committee voted to ask City Attorney Rich Ronning to outline the council's options for dealing with a revised gift offer by Templo Mahaniam Assemblea de Dios Church of two parcels of land, one of which is occupied by Mahanaim's condemned church building at 707 Litchfield Ave. S.W.

The revised offer includes the parking lot located on the south side of the building. The previous gift offer -- just the lot on which the building sits -- was rejected by the council on Dec. 7 because the single lot was not eligible as a buildable lot.

The committee also asked city staff to prepare a reuse and financial plan for the site. The council has ordered repairs be made to the building or will start condemnation proceedings to have the building demolished. The council has been advised by staff that the mortgage on the property must be satisfied and title be free and clear before the council can accept the property.

Also, the committee recommended the council hold a hearing on a revised ordinance to regulate wind generators. The council sent a previously proposed ordinance back to the Planning Commission for further study on the issues of noise, aesthetics, maintenance and size.

The council will consider the recommendations during the regular meeting at 7 p.m. Monday in the chamber of the Municipal Utilities Building, 700 Litchfield Ave. S.W.

The council will also receive reports from the Finance Committee and Public Works/Safety Committee, take comments during the open forum, hold a hearing on an ordinance to allow on-sale of wine at theaters, and consider on-sale and club on-sale Sunday liquor licenses.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150