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Township supervisor calls out state agency for refusing to help distressed residents

Posted at 5:22 PM, Apr 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-21 17:57:25-04

EMMETT TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- An Emmett Township supervisor says the state department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) has failed some of the residents there.

Triangle Mobile Home Park residents have been dealing with a string of issues for years, and contacted the FOX 17 Problem Solvers because they say the state isn't listening.

The issues include unsanitary septic tanks, building code violations, unpaid water and heat bills and questionable ethics on collecting rent.

Emmett Township Supervisor Tim Hill says the state hasn't been doing what they could or should for the residents for years now.  He said ownership recently changed in the past couple of weeks, but for years Triangle was run by Steve Ramirez, a man who lives in Florida.

"Ramirez would collect all the money from residents and not pay the bills in Battle Creek," Hill said.  "He would go in at the last minute of the last day to pay it and the check would bounce and it would happen over and over again."

The township couldn't step in, because LARA regulates Michigan's trailer parks.

"I have never seen one representative from LARA down here, but here's the kicker: they are supposed to inspect parks annually and I find it very interesting that they have passed their inspection every year," Hill said.

The township and the health department have tried to step in by calling out violations and writing letters recommending their license not be renewed.  They say those recommendations fall on deaf ears.

"The people here at Triangle deserve better because they are human beings who deserve clean water and electricity.  They deserve to move into a park and not be pressed by a manager there who will sell a trailer to a person and then 30 days later evict them," Hill said.

The township is attempting to pass an ordinance that would make plumbing, water and lights public so they could step in.

FOX 17 News reached out to LARA asking specifically why they issue licenses to people to operate or run trailer parks that are blatantly contributing to violations on the park grounds:

The Triangle Mobile Home Park met compliance with the most recent annual inspection by the Dept. of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs’ (LARA) Bureau of Construction Codes which covers drainage, garbage, rodents, and general operations of the park.  Our oversight involves the park grounds.  Oversight of the units and buildings within the park rests with the local code enforcing authority.  Not all items within the park are under the purview of LARA.  For example, landlord/tenant issues are items that are not under our oversight. These are contractual issues that could be addressed through the legal system.

They also sent along a long list of regulations and laws that outline what they are not responsible for saying they "speak for themselves".

Supervisor Hill does not disagree with the laws, but still contests that LARA has the power to stop people who are blatantly leaving people in poor conditions to take away their license.