Ash Creek MHPark Issues
TRUTH MATTERS ? this is the prime slogan of C-NOAH.
Let me try to respond factually and with respect to some of the April 18 e-mail:
1. First off ? the property is officially the Ash Creek Mobile Home Park - NOT ?trailer park? ? in the official name of this property, the word HOME is important. These are not just simply trailers, but HOMES owned by the residents of this small neighborhood.
2. Kevin states: ???. our neighborhood voted 75 to 3 to join other Neighborhood Associations in petitioning the City of Dallas to take action against the Ash Creek Trailer Park???
My response: I am happy to know there was an official ?vote?. However, 75 is a small number out of 637 homes that are in Forest Hills, and also this ?vote? was greatly influenced by inaccurate statistics about code and crime violations provided by Ms. Wolfe to Kevin's group. Ms. Wolfe (in a legal filing to the City of Dallas) used every single 311 and 911 call to or from the MHPark address as if it was a ?crime? or serious violation ? this has been found to be vastly untrue ? Ms. Wolfe, a lawyer, did not use honest information counting even duplications of calls and easy to see simple citizen ?City Service requests? as Violations or Crimes.
3. Kevin states: ?The proximity of the railroad tracks makes this parcel of land ANYTHING BUT prime real estate.?
My response: I?m surprised Kevin is unaware of dialogue that has gone on about wanting to see the MHPark land eventually developed into upscale townhomes or single family homes. In the Dec. 14 BOA hearing, Ms. Wolfe openly stated this and even named Mr. Charles Magee, a developer, as having interest in buying the land. On the FRI website, this 4.36 acre of land is sited as one of several locations for redevelopment. Ms. Wolfe repeatedly voiced the idea that this land needs to be developed into upper scale housing, and said she knew of developers with an interest ? this was said at the BOA hearings.
In a meeting before my Forest Meade Neighborhood Association in Jan. 2005, two representatives from FRI tried to talk us into joining the efforts to ?get rid of the ?trailer park? and have new development go in there. They did talk about the deterioration of the Park and called the owner a ?slumlord?. They had never met or talked with him, however. At that meeting, we would not agree to join to get rid of the MHPark until we first tried contacting the manager and owner about concerns discussed.
This meeting became the basis of our group forming and our first contact with Mr. Crossett, the owner, in Feb. 2005. Would big developers really buy and develop this land ? between a creek, RR and the golf course?? That has been put out there for a while as a big interest ? and we know for sure Mr. Magee wanted to develop the empty lot at the end of Barbaree with 14 smacked together townhomes. Forest Meade Assoc. fought this rezoning attempt by him, and WE WON due to his proposal being ?out of character? with our existing homes and large lots ? won before the Plan Commission and City Council in 2005.
4. Kevin states: ?Your story stated that "52 families at the Ahs Creek Mobile Home Park..."
My response: Kevin may be correct that the Park had gone slightly beyond the allowed number of structures ? however these were designated spaces that were in place before the property came into the City Limits. No Dallas City Code person had cited the owner (at least I?m not aware) for having too many homes at the Park before Ms. Wolfe?s petition. It is an important issue and IS being corrected. I think currently there may be only 47 structures there and plans are to work within the lawful limits which are being reviewed by the owner and his lawyer to let some of these empty spaces become parking areas and possibly a playground.
5. Kevin states: ?Your article did accurately state that Mr. Crossett has long ignored City of Dallas zoning laws?
My response: Ms. Cavazos's report statement here is inaccurate. Mr. Crossett has not ignored City zoning laws. Mr. Crossett?s family purchased the property in 1962 (when he was a teenager), and the property had a ?grandfathered? special use permit (not sure on the exact legal terminology). As far as I can tell from attending two BOA hearings on this, Mr. Crossett has NOT ignored any zoning laws to this point. His business was in operation with a LEGAL grandfathered zoning permit to operate as a MHPark. In 1952, the already existing ?trailer Park? was taken into the City Limits. The City did a wholesale zoning for all nearby properties as single family 7.5 ? even my street with 1 acre lots was zoned such.
The City gave the property at 1801 Highland a ?grandfathered? status to operate as a mobile home park. That was not taken away until the BOA decision of Dec. 14, 2005 ? and partially due to inaccurate information provided by Ms. Wolfe against the Park and its residents (claims of this place being a ?magnet for crime? and not giving accurate information related to code violations, etc.
So, Mr. Crossett HAS NOT been ignoring City Zoning laws and is currently going through the proper channels to try and have the MHPark officially given a Special Use Permit ? SUP ? to allow time for him to take care of important issues that have been brought up thru the recent petition against the Park.
6. Kevin states: ?The City of Dallas does not allow mobile home parks to be zoned within the city limits.?
My response: Where is this written? I have never heard that at all. There is a nice MHPark ? the Woodshire Park ? just 1.6 miles from AshCreekMHPark on Lawnview. How long has Kevin lived in Dallas? I?ve been aware of MHParks all around the city. Yes, they seem to be disappearing, but I did not know that they were ALL illegal?
7. Kevin states: ?I do not know of anyone who is interested in this parcel of land for any type of real estate development.?
My response: As I have stated above, we heard actual developers named by Ms. Wolfe in her public statements at City hearings who want to buy the land. Kevin does have a point. If all the neighbors who are trying to ?get rid of the MHPark? succeed, I expect we will have a big empty plot of land at the end of my street for a long time to come. Ya?ll will really see crime and no-good as dirt bikes make trails there and dumping is a constant problem.
Please, if you do not think this land is sellable for other purposes, then support the upcoming SUP for the MHPark ? allow a period of time for the owner and residents to make required improvements. Also, allowing the residents to maintain their homes and Mr. Crossett, his business, as long as he steps up to the plate and takes care of problems of concern.
8. Kevin states: ?Mr. Cossett's failure to work with neighbors and neglect of the property (until action was taken against him) led me, and others, to consider him to be nothing more than a greedy slumlord who is taking advantage of those who reside at the Ash Creek Trailer Park.?
My response: In Feb. 2005, after FRI reps came to a Forest Meade Assoc meeting and tried to talk us into signing a petition against the Park, I called Mr. Crossett in person and got him on the first ring. I introduced myself and discussed concerns about the deterioration that had been brought up in a recent meeting. He asked me to send a letter of concerns to him. A small committee from the Forest Meade Association was formed and we put together a letter including proposals for his attention. I also met with the manager at his request.
Mr. Crossett was polite and said no one had notified him about conditions of the Park. This contradiction to what Kevin says could be that his mother may have received the notices? Or, the manager and Sue Crossett (82 yrs old) have been handling the Park issues until the recent petition brought Mr. Crossett (her son) full force into the issue. Every code issue listed on the City Services list shows ?closed? and all were listed ?closed? on the petition that Ms. Wolfe filed as well.
Mr. Crossett began to address some suggested changes right off. A home near the front was repaired with the manager's help. It was a home to a disabled person unable to keep the place up. Remember, Mr. Crossett does not ?own? the structures in the Park ? but has helped in some cases financially to see repairs made to them. Also, plans began for the lattice fencing (at our suggestion) that now fronts the Park ? making a big difference ? finally in place by summer of ?05.
At our suggestion, the owner asked about having the Bulk Trash location changed to back of the Park, but the City could not accommodate due to their trucks being too large. Many outsiders have used the MHPark bulk trash area, which has caused great concerns for those living inside and outside the MHPark.
To date, Mr. Crossett is working in conjunction with residents to have upgrades made. He has paid for paint for homes (even though these homes do not belong to him personally), and he has addressed Code issues as they have been given to him. Some of the costly issues (electrical line changes) he is in process of having bids for major work to be done.
9. Kevin states: ?As Mr. Cossett hides in the Hill Country of Texas, the property deteriorates and he deposits $10,000 per month, $120,000 per year, $1,200,000 over ten (10) years into his bank account.?
My response: First off, I do not know how Kevin knows the Crossett Family financial information. He did not include (nor would he know) expenses to subtract from income. He didn?t know the costs of taxes, insurance, repairs, utilities, manager?s expense, travel expense ? and now certainly lawyer expenses. It seems most inappropriate to list publicly such exact figures related to someone else?s business and not even based on any facts.
Secondly, let?s set the facts straight, whether this makes a difference or not, Mr. Crossett does not receive any of the income of this business. All income goes to his mother, Sue Crossett ? the real administrator of the Park. Mr. Crossett has stated this under oath at the hearings. So nothing seemingly has gone into ?his? bank account. The Park was his mother and father?s investment and is still used as only income source for his mother since her husband passed away.
10. Keven says ?Mr. Cossett has snubbed his nose at his tenants at the Ash Creek Trailer Park?
My response: Mr. Crossett is in constant contact with the resident group SaveAshCreekHomes. He has spent money to assist them in the efforts to upgrade their own personal property (their homes they own) buying paint and paying for extra trash pick up as they cleaned up their yards and surrounding areas. He has recently paid for part-time help to do extra clean-up in and around all areas of the Park. He has paid for minor landscaping and had a planter built for the front of the Park. If the SUP is approved, he plans to do more extensive upgrading and landscaping. He talks almost daily with the manager about everything involving the residents and the effort to ?Save the Park?. He and his mother have traveled to Dallas several times in recent months to check on progress of clean-up efforts
Mr. Crossett has contacted me by email several times, asking for advice from our Concerned Neighbors group and thanking us for our support for him and the residents.
I don?t really know him personally, but have met him at the hearing, have written and talked with him. I don?t think he is a greedy man or a slumlord. I think he thought his mother was handling everything as she had been doing in the past 45 years ? and he was not personally involved until the petition certainly had to catch his attention and get him going.
11. Kevin States: ?Meanwhile, the Ash Creek Trailer Park has become a compound. Hideous, fluorescent yellow and black signs are posted outside of the property that state - PRIVATE PROPERTY and declare that Dallas City Officials can not enter the property. Why? What is to hide??
My response: There is nothing to hide, but these signs went up after the residents were bombarded by people driving through taking pictures, snooping around without asking the manager or anyone for permission to do so.
This place is in the news and the traffic through there was becoming dangerous even to the children of the Park. The last straw was when a man was taking pictures and writing down notes. He was approached to see what he was doing and if he had permission from the manager. It turns out that he was Karl Evans from the Dallas City Attorney?s office, claiming to be in an official capacity checking on code violations. When asked for ID, he had none and he had no paperwork from the City about a needed report. This is the same man who appeared at the end of the Dec. 14 hearing with a big list of code issues ? never given to the manager or the owner ? but used in the hearing as evidence against the owner and residents. To this day, Mr. Evan?s ?report? does not give specific locations of any violations and is simply a check list of issues with no details for the residents or owner to respond to.
Mr. Evans, hired by someone to snoop around the Park was rude to residents and had no ID or credentials that he could show the manager.
The neon signs went up right after this incident! Who really hired Mr. Evans to be there ? if it was the City Attorney, why didn?t this man have official paperwork or ID of some type?
The MobileHomePark has NOTHING to Hide any more than the Enclaves in our neighborhood who have stone walls and gates to keep people out that don?t have permission to be there. If you or anyone wishes to notify Evelyn, the manager, for a tour of the place, she or someone will walk you through.
12. Kevin states: ??homemade signs have been posted on the property that personally attack neighbors that oppose the re-zoning of the property.?
My response: Yes, the residents have named names in some of their signage. Ms. Wolfe is particularly a symbol to them (as it is her name on the petition). She probably represents all who have signed in on a petition that named them as Criminals! The attacks in the petition were very personal attacks and FALSE ? against all who live at the MHPark ? including the honored WWII vet, Vietnam Vet, the school crossing guards, the musicians, the nurse, the hardworking construction workers, the working moms with children, the retired seniors, the children who go to school down the street ? all of these folks were held up as CRIMINAL elements in the petition you encouraged your Association to sign.
When one looks at the ?crime? calls ?you see that MOST every call to police to report crime had nothing to do with the people inside the Park.
They may not be using good judgment naming people personally, but try to imagine losing your home because someone holds up false information and does not listen (at the past hearings) to your ?truths? about the situation. ?Walk in their shoes? a minute and think ? what would you do?
13. Kevin says: ?For years neighbors have asked for the owners and residents of the property to clean up their act?
My response: There have been no official actions brought against the MHpark until 2005. The City has never sought to take away the legal grandfathered permit until the 2005 petition was filed. And all code issues brought to the attention of management or the owner, are closed cases ? except a few major expense issues that the owner will take care of once the SUP is approved.
An official City Code inspector has been at the property on and off over the years when issues were reported. The City Code inspectors have ?closed? all cases, stating that they were addressed as needed. A City Code inspector ? at the request of the owner ? walked the property in Dec. 2005 right before the BOA hearing and said everything was in shape!
The ?mystery? Code Inspector, Mr. Evans, working for the City Attorney?s office, however, gave undocumented testimony at the Dec. 14 BOA hearing that contradicted the other Code Officer. The owner, the residents, or the manager were NEVER given any information about Mr. Evan?s code issues until 3 months later and then it was just a check list with no details!
How Fair is the treatment to the MHPark by the City by Code officials?? There have been discrepancies about ?what acts to clean up? at the Park. No one from FRI had ever tried to visit with Mr. Crossett or the manager who has lived at Lot 5 for several years and is easy to contact. These issues went straight to the City in an effort to get rid of the MHPark from our neighborhood! Why was this the approach?
14. Kevin states: ?My hope is that the Dallas City Plan Commission will hear the facts associated with this issue and make a decision based upon those facts.?
My response: This is also MY HOPE, and the hope of all neighbors involved with C-NOAH. FACTS and TRUTH and COMMON SENSE should decide this case ? not prejudices, exaggerations, half-truths, assumptions and false information included on legal filings to the City.
If the owner comes up with a good plan and timeline for his requested SUP, I cannot imagine that the City Plan Commission would disapprove it. The owner and residents have shown great good faith efforts so far on this issue, and they deserve further OPPORTUNITY to do more.
15. Keven states: ?I have worked with our Neighborhood Association to deliver dinners to families that have experienced loss ?. my daughter and I have delivered toys to children in the trailer park.?
My response: Yes, thank you Kevin for joining our (Concerned Neighbors of AshCreek Homes) efforts in December to have a toy and food drive for the MHPark residents. This made up a lot for the stress they all felt due to the decision of the BOA right before Christmas to have them removed from our neighborhood in the near future.
Our group, Concerned Neighbors of AshCreekHomes ? C-NOAH will continue to include him in future activities we plan to help out the MHPark residents.
16. Keven states: ?My concern is for the residents of Ash Creek Trailer Park. I would propose that Mr. Cossett sell the property to the residents of the trailer park.?
My response: It is impractical for Mr. Crossett to try and ?sell? the land small, plot by small plot, to the residents. I?m sure Kevin knows that, but he's right in that when one owns his property, he/she will take more care of it. The residents of the MHPark DO own their homes, and I think now they have formed a collaborative unit to help take care of problems that they had been lax in doing in the past. They see the need to have a ?Neighborhood Association? or a Tenant?s Group, once the SUP is approved. They would continue to work in conjunction with the owner to make sure all properties of the Park (their homes and his land) are managed properly in the future.
If anyone is really concerned for the residents of Ash Creek Mobile Home Park (not ?trailer? Park) support the owner?s request for an SUP and time to make the needed upgrades to the Park! Do not support the BOA faulty decision to see them ?kicked out of our neighborhood by November 15, 2006!
Finally, to Plan Commissioners, the reporter and other officials copied on this email in response to Mr. Rachel:
I feel certain all will try to seek the TRUTHS in this matter most of all and make decisions based on that. Please be fair to the residents of the MHPark who are property owners and give fair treatment to Mr. Crossett, the owner. If his proposed Plan for upgrades to the Park seem reasonable and can be achieved over time, please support his requested SUP. The neighbors ? both opposed and against the MHPark all deserve to be concerned for neglect of any property in our area and this MHPark was managed loosely in the past ? letting people ?live and let live? so to say, not requiring the careful maintenance of the lots and homes.
But, these issues are being addressed by a joint effort of the owner and the residents, and we have no reason to think that this trend will not continue.
I hope I have given truthful information here, but please advise on any wrongful statements included above. The motto of C-NOAH is ?TRUTH MATTERS - Be Fair the MHPark?