Concerns over floods that have damaged or destroyed homes in a Plum mobile home park factored heavily into borough officials rejecting a proposal to expand the park.
The borough’s zoning hearing board denied a request from Plum Creek MHC to add 21 manufactured home sites, for a total of 61 sites, to the property off Hulton Road.
The proposal also included upgrading the park’s utility infrastructure, road and lighting, and adding a park management office, new recreation space and a stormwater detention facility.
Plum officials and Holiday Park fire Chief James Sims, the borough’s emergency management coordinator, opposed the request. Opposition also came from the Allegheny County Conservation District and six residents of the park.
The mobile home park at 1741 Kirk Drive is an existing nonconforming use in an area that is zoned for single-family residential. The property was sold last November for $2.73 million, according to Allegheny County real estate records.
Robbie Garippo, who represented Plum Creek during a public hearing in September before the zoning hearing board, is director of operations for Evoke Capital.
According to its website, Evoke Capital is a real estate investment firm founded in early 2021 that focuses on acquiring manufactured housing communities. Garippo testified it owns 20 such communities nationwide.
Garippo did not respond to a request for comment. Matthew Kalina, an attorney for Plum Creek, also could not be reached for comment.
According to the board’s decision, Garippo testified that without the expansion, “The economic viability of the property fails.”
On cross-examination, Garippo acknowledged that they had never previously bought property inside a flood zone. He said the company relied upon the representations of the prior owner about the viability of 11 existing sites that are not viable because of their location in the floodway.
Donald Housley Sr., an interim planner for the borough with KU Resources, testified about previous significant flooding at the property. He raised concerns about future flooding that would result from the grading and fill required to build new manufactured home sites on the property because of the existing flood plain, the board’s decision states.
Housley noted the entire middle of the property is within a flood plain. He testified that the newly proposed and existing sites would be exposed to significant risk during flooding situations.
Sims testified that the property flooded in 2019, 2021 and 2022, and had to be evacuated during the 2019 and 2021 floods.
The 2019 flood significantly damaged or destroyed between 20 and 25 homes in the park.
Residents testified that flooding has been an ongoing issue. Their concerns over the proposed expansion included traffic safety, flooding, the impact on wetlands and wildlife, and potential rent increases.
While Plum Creek MHC included a stormwater detention facility in its plans, the board said it presented no testimony or evidence that would resolve or mitigate the flooding that happens there during heavy rain.
Ron Urbanic, whose girlfriend manages the park, testified in support. He said the proposed improvements would “upgrade” the borough by developing additional portions of the property and increasing tax revenue.
Plum Creek MHC can appeal the zoning hearing board’s decision to court, interim Borough Manager David Soboslay said.
Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .