Woody Creekers, housing board inch closer to trailer park deal | AspenTimes.com

Woody Creekers, housing board inch closer to trailer park deal

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Housing officials and tenants of the Woody Creek Mobile Home Park inched closer Wednesday toward an agreement on what value will be assigned to trailers in the park.

The calculation is critical for tenants, who are anxious to recoup the cost of improvements they’ve put into their homes when they’re ready to sell them. The Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority, on the other hand, is trying to keep the homes affordable to future generations of working residents.

The Housing Authority owns the park, but is working on a plan to subdivide it, so individual residents may buy their own lots. The two sides were at an impasse last month, with the tenants threatening to refuse to buy the land and, instead, remain renters indefinitely.

Despite a terse exchange or two last night, park residents were encouraged by the Housing Authority’s latest offer.

“It is getting closer. We came to this meeting with a lot of uncertainty, but it seems to be moving in a positive direction,” said Lanny Curtis, president of the park homeowners association.

The housing board has offered to assign a base value of $20,000 to every trailer in the park and add that sum to the lot price. Any resident who believes their home is worth more than $20,000 can obtain an appraisal to show the housing office their home should be assigned a higher value.

Anyone who replaces a home will be able to recoup both the value of the old trailer, plus the cost of the new home, when they sell their property to someone else. A Category 4 cap, however, is still envisioned in the deed restrictions for the park, cautioned board chairman Steve Elliott.

Currently, the maximum sale price for a single-family home under Category 4 is $295,800.

Capital improvements within the park ” streets, new sewer lines and such ” made by the homeowners can also be recouped with the sale of a home on a pro-rated basis.

The sole sticking point was how existing trailers will be appraised. Some are so old, they can’t be moved, said attorney Tim Whitsitt, representing the association. Their owners may have put far more than $20,000 into them, but tenants fear an appraiser will assign them no value because the unit can’t go elsewhere, he said.

“I think this is a move forward,” Whitsitt added. “Twenty-thousand for some units may be a heck of a lot. It may be very generous.”

Homeowner Gary Krill has one of those old, immovable trailers. But, he said, it has an addition on it that’s worth more than $20,000, and the home has hard-wood floors and marble counter tops, he said.

Board members agreed improvements to the trailer should have value. Improvements residents have made outside their homes are another matter, Elliott said. Tenants may not be able to recoup the money they’ve put into landscaping, for example, on land they don’t yet own.

The board put off approval of the proposed deed restrictions for the subdivision until January. Members want to consult with appraisers and the county assessor’s office to find out how the assessor assigns value to mobile homes.

The deed restrictions will impose price and appreciation caps to keep the homes affordable, as well as restrictions that make them available only to qualified working residents.

[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com]

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