Trailer park wants subdivision

Communally owned lots will be divided among owners

— A group of trailer home owners who decided about one and a half years ago to communally buy their trailer park are ready now to divvy that land up to the individual homeowners.

The 17 owners of Hilltop Trailer Park, who formed a homeowners association to manage the trailer park near Steamboat Springs High School, are applying for a permit to subdivide their land.

Currently, the owners are paying off the $675,000 loan for the entire piece of land through their association. But if the subdivision goes through, the members of the group will each pay off their own loans and will own their individual lots.

As is the case with the owners of many of the trailers in Steamboat, the owners of the homes in Hilltop Trailer Park initially did not own the land under their homes. Before the land went on the market in the fall of 2000, the homeowners got together and decided that they would control their own fate by purchasing it.

With help from the community, the group was able to obtain a loan financed equally by all five Steamboat banks to buy the land.

"It's amazing the amount of support we have gotten from the community," said Donna Starbuck, a trailer homeowner at Hilltop.

Starbuck said the trailer owners named the road through the complex after the former owners of the trailer park, Leland and Ilagrace Harms, because of their generosity selling the land for less than they could have made. They wanted to name it Harm's Way, because they were suddenly "out of harm's way," but the city asked that they instead name it Harms Court.

Separating the lots will make the financing deal more palatable for the banks involved, said Beth Leys, a manager for the homeowner's association. It will also make the deal easier for the homeowners and the association. Leys said she is not sure what would happen if one of the homeowners had decided not to pay his or her share of the loan.

Currently, each homeowner pays about $300 per month to the association to pay off the loan and maintain the park, Starbuck said. If the subdivision goes through, each homeowner will likely pay a different amount based on the appraised value of their individual lot.

"Instead of each of us just owning a portion of the company, we each will own our own yard," Leys said.

This had been the intention of the homeowners from the beginning, Leys said. They just didn't have the time to put together a subdivision plan before they needed to close on the property.

The proposed lots do not all conform to the standards of the Steamboat Springs Community Development Code, so the association will have to obtain permission from the city to vary the lot sizes. Some of the lots are smaller than the city code permits while the city asks for mobile home lots to be at least 4,000 square feet, some of the lots at Hilltop are less than 4,000 square feet and one is less than 3,000.

The mobile home park ordinance that the city passed last year addresses the lot size issue, attempting to help people out who want to buy their mobile home park and subdivide it by allowing the planning director to sign off on irregular lot sizes or setbacks, among other things.

But that ordinance will not apply to this application, said city planner Leif Myhre. The reason is that the city already classifies Hilltop as a mobile home subdivision, because it was subdivided into two parcels when it was bought to allow the homeowners to sell the house that the landowner lived in.

Leys said she feels sorry for the residents of Trailer Haven trailer park, which was bought by the Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Association soon after the Hilltop deal went through. Those residents will have to leave their trailers to make room for tennis courts this summer.

Leys thinks Hilltop was more successful in part because all of the trailers are owner-occupied, unlike Trailer Haven.

The subdivision application will be reviewed by the city Planning Commission on April 11.

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