Saturday, September 09, 2000

Trailer owners fight move

Mobile park residents ousted for Lowe's

By Ken Alltucker
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MILFORD — A group of residents being forced from their homes to make room for a Lowe's home improvement store may have another place to live.

        A Milford mobile home park owner wants to expand his park by 35 spaces for senior citizens facing displacement at Romar Villa, which is being sold to North Carolina-based Lowe's.

        “A lot of people (from Romar Villa) have been coming here, searching for a place,” said Marv Theilman, who owns a 70-space mobile home park in Miami Township. “We just happen to have more land here, and that began the whole thing in motion.”

        Romar Villa residents have scrambled to find places to live since learning this summer that Romar Villa owner Jake Sieber agreed to sell the mobile home park to Lowe's.

        Lowe's spokeswoman Jule Eller said the retailer is concerned about Romar Villa residents and is working to help them find new homes.

        As is typical with mobile home parks, Mr. Sieber owns the land and the park's 169 residents pay monthly rent — $250 in this case — for a space. That means the displaced Romar Villan residents can move their homes to a new park.

        Mr. Theilman hired an engineer to design an expansion on 10 acres he owns next to his park on Wolfpen-Pleasant Hill Road in Clermont County. The park is 3 miles from Romar Villa, which is on Ohio 28.

        With more than 80 senior citizens at Romar Villa and only 35 new spaces planned at Mr. Theilman's park, not all Romar Villa residents will find a space. And no younger Romar Villa residents are allowed at Mr. Theilman's park, which only rents to senior citizens. That's why a group of Romar Villa residents is fighting a zoning change that Lowe's needs to build a store.

        Lowe's consultant McBride Dale Clarion submitted a plan for a zoning change from mobile homes to commercial use to allow the planned 135,000-square-foot store and space for three smaller retail spaces, such as for fast-food restaurants or a bank. The Miami Township zoning board has scheduled a public hearing Oct. 4.

        Mr. Theilman also needs Miami Township to approve a zoning change and that public hearing is scheduled for Oct. 5. Both hearings will be held at the Milford High School cafeteria because a large turnout is expected.

        Charles Seipelt, whose 88-year-old mother, Anita, lives at Romar Villa, is organizing park residents and others to protest the Lowe's store and support Mr. Theilman.

        “All the elected officials will stand up and say we will do anything to help you,” Mr. Seipelt said. "'We're saying, "Don't approve the zoning change.'”

        Mr. Seipelt said many park residents are being targeted by unscrupulous investors offering as little as $1,000 to buy the mobile homes, then resell them at a profit.

        So far, at least six Romar Villa residents have sold their mobile homes at discount prices.

        “They sell out of fear,” he said.


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