Wake Forest OKs plans to close and redevelop a fleet of mobile homes

About two dozen families in Wake Forest will have until January to relocate after the city approved Tuesday of a 36-acre residential redevelopment project.

Residents will receive up to $ 375,000 to be divided among them, as well as help from community groups to ease the transition.

The Wake Forest Council of Commissioners voted in favor of a plan by the communities of Middleburg for up to 260 cottage-style rental homes on Deerfield Drive, off of NC 98. The development will replace the mobile home park in longtime Wellington Park.

Park owner and former city mayor George Mackie Jr. had told families, most of whom own their homes, that they should move out whether the redevelopment is approved or not.

Only 27 of the 47 families remain. Those who don’t leave before January 19 will be evicted, giving them 180 days under state law to move their mobile homes. About a dozen homes cannot be moved due to their age or condition, resident Ronnie Jackson told commissioners.

Commissioner Chad Sary said on Tuesday that finding a solution had not been easy. Commissioners spent months trying to find a way to help future displaced residents, they said, but Mackie decided to close the park.

Mackie did not respond to The News & Observer’s numerous requests for comment.

“It could have been handled in a much better way,” Sary said. “That being said, on this forum I think we are all trying to make the right decisions. It’s never easy, and personally I’ve never had to deal with anything like this.

Wellington Park residents gather

Wellington Park residents and their supporters gathered outside Wake Forest Town Hall ahead of Tuesday’s meeting. They had decided in August to abandon their plan for a resident-owned co-op that could buy the park from Mackie, backing the deal with Middleburg instead.

They also worked with the NC Congress of Latino Organizations to launch a GoFundMe campaign to raise $ 40,000 for relocation costs. Some families have been given estimates of $ 20,000 or more to move their homes to a new location.

The permit requires the developer to pay $ 375,000 to help residents relocate, and the city to reimburse the developer $ 125,000 by waiving a portion of its parks and recreation costs. This could provide each of the remaining families with over $ 13,000.

The offer was negotiated at the September 7 meeting with the Planning Council and Commissioners, who were surprised when Jason Pfister, vice president of land rights for the communities of Middleburg, said the city would reimburse half of the deal. the initial pledge of funding of $ 250,000.

It was the first time either of them had heard of the plan, the commissioners said. Wall-Lennon suggested that Middleburg put an additional $ 125,000 into the pot, which the developer did last week.

Pfister told the N&O he had also contacted moving companies and regional park owners to find options for residents. He called the gap in funding resettlement a misunderstanding.

Commissioner Liz Simpers said it was frustrating.

“We don’t want to hurt anyone, and we don’t want to hurt the people who have no choice but to be deported, but if we can help we have to do it,” she said on September 7. . Meet.

Wake Forest Mayor Vivian Jones acknowledged the Pfister and Middleburg communities at Tuesday’s meeting to have helped reduce the effect on residents.

“Looking back at my experience with the developers, I think (Pfister) did more than most, and I think it would be mean or inappropriate to portray him or see Middleburg as the bad guy in this situation,” said Jones.

Middleburg will work with Triangle Family Services and ONE Wake – a group of churches and non-profit organizations – to help families.

The money can be spent on a variety of relocation costs, ranging from a down payment for a new home or apartment, to utility hookups, moving costs, temporary accommodation, childcare, and child care. storage units, Wall-Lennon said. Triangle Family Services will also provide up to $ 1,500 in gift cards for gas, food and other necessities.

The developer’s building plans will not be approved until residents receive the help promised to them, Wall-Lennon said.

“I wanted to share this publicly with the residents in the hope that it will reassure you or reassure you that we have done everything we know how to do in this particular situation,” she said. “My heart is aching for you. I’m sorry it comes down to it, but I wish you all the best.”

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Tammy Grubb has been writing about politics, people, and government in Orange County since 2010. She is a UNC-Chapel Hill alumnus and has lived and worked in the Triangle for over 25 years.


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