Rent control vote in West Stockbridge for Mill Pond Mobile Home Park


WEST STOCKBRIDGE -- As the community's lone mobile home park moves toward rent control, the owner wants to sell the housing complex -- possibly to the tenants.

A special town meeting tonight will vote on establishing a base rent and other local bylaws governing the Mill Pond Mobile Home Park on Route 41. The meeting is set for 7 p.m. at the town hall on State Line Road (Route 102).

If approved and upheld by the state attorney general's office, the regulations would establish a monthly $325 fee -- or base rent -- for homeowners to lease the 35 lots at the park.

The Board of Selectmen, acting as the newly formed Rent Control Board, last month proposed the regulations after the state Legislature and Gov. Deval L. Patrick approved the town's request to establish the rent control authority in August.

However, the landlord seeking to sell or lease the housing development to an investor isn't in reaction to rent control, according to park general manger, Eric Levesque.

"I've reached our goal of investing in the property and it's now time to sell," he said.

Levesque wouldn't divulge the amount of money the owner, Bay Plum LLC, has spent upgrading the mobile home park since purchasing it nearly three years ago for $625,000, according to Eagle files.

In a recent letter to the Mill Pond Tenants Association, Levesque suggested they look into buying the park, a move he says would save them money in the long run. The tenant's group is considering the idea, according to their president, Nancy Hale.

"Instead of a trailer park, we think of ourselves as a mobile home community and would take pride in ownership," she said.

Meanwhile, Hale is confident West Stockbridge voters tonight will adopt the municipal rent control bylaws, including the $325 base rent that town officials see as a compromise to the ongoing rent dispute between the tenants and landlord.

Park residents had wanted the rent based on figures as of March 2011, the month Bay Plum bought the park from the Gennari family. Under the new management, led by Eric Levesque, Mill Pond residents have seen a 40 percent spike in monthly rents from $260 to $365.

The landlord wanted to maintain the current rent saying the additional income will continue to pay for major upgrades to the park, such as water, septic systems, gravel roads and rehabilitation.

Both sides have been somewhat receptive to the board's proposal, viewing it as a "starting point."

Under the proposed bylaw, the tenants and landlord can petition the Rent Control Board to raise or lower the base rent figure. Webber noted the proposed regulations automatically call for an annual review of the monthly rent every January.

According to the pending regulations, the Rent Control Board also can get involved in eviction cases, something that concerns the landlord.

Levesque has said the state procedure for trying to remove a tenant in arrears already is several months without adding a layer of local review to the process.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
or (413) 496-6233

If you go ...

n What: West Stockbridge special town

n When: Tonight, 7 p.m.

n Where: Town Hall, 21 State Line Road (Route 102)

n Key topic: Vote on proposed rent control bylaws for the Mill Pond Mobile Home Park.


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