As it has been in the past, the city of Brainerd is one step away from having an ordinance regulating mobile home park closings.
The Brainerd City Council Monday approved the first reading of the proposed ordinance by a 6-1 vote. A public hearing, the second and final reading and adoption of the ordinance could occur at the council's April 4 meeting.
The proposed ordinance states a park owner will pay a mobile home owner's relocation costs to another park within a 25-mile radius; or be compensated an amount equal to 75 percent of the assessed value or the estimated market value, whichever is higher.
Current state law mandates a nine-month notice of a park closing and a public hearing before the governing body. Whether to provide relocation costs is up to the local governing body.
Council member Lucy Nesheim, the lone dissenting vote for the first reading, said state law covered the city's interests without passing the ordinance.
"The point is that this ordinance will harm the residents the most that we want to help," Nesheim said. "It would force the property owners to raise their rents to cover future loss. It would harm the residents."
Council member Anne Nelson Fisher said though state law allows cities to impose relocation costs, by not passing an ordinance the city would have to negotiate those costs for each park resident at each park closing.
"Depending on the number of residents we could have hundreds of individual claims that would need to be negotiated," Fisher said.
Ed Shaw, chairman of the committee that developed the ordinance, said the committee approved its language by a 13-1 vote. He said the proposed ordinance is a balance between the needs of the property owners and the needs of the people who live in mobile home parks.
Council member Mark O'Day said by passing the ordinance, park owners will know up front what will happen if they choose to close their mobile home parks.
"A number of years ago we went through this mess," O'Day said in reference to the 2000 closing of Lakeview Mobile Home Park in east Brainerd. "If an ordinance such as this was in place we would not have to go through that again. Everyone knows what the playing field is and we can move forward."
The current proposed ordinance was spurred by the closing of the East Gate Mobile Home Park in northeast Brainerd.
MATT ERICKSON can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5857.
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