News 12 at Six O'Clock / Wednesday, July 11, 2012
HEPHZIBAH, Ga. -- News 12 continues to follow trouble at a Hephzibah mobile home park. Tenants at Plantation Acres on Dean's Bridge Road have been complaining about problems with their maintenance and security.
News 12 attempted to reach new park owner Michael Butler over the last two weeks. Today, he was in town starting the cleanup at Plantation Acres.
Code Enforcement was on the scene this morning. "There can't be any more excuses," the officer said to Butler. "Within the next thirty days, I would like you to present to us a corrective plan of action."
News 12's Carter Coyle says, "I've had dozens of people call me over the past two weeks. No plumbing, no air. What are we doing to fix those things?"
"Well ma'am, I just made it here this morning," explains Butler. "A lot of these issues have taken place over the last ten years, as you can see, these diseased trees just didn't happen overnight. This debris is older than two months ago when I took over. So it's just gonna take some time to clear it up."
In addition to sewage, air conditioning, and trash problems, the park was also behind on their power bill to Jefferson Energy. "That bill has cleared up," he promises. Butler says there was a dispute with the former owner of the park which caused the delay in bill payments. "I felt there was not proper disclosure of all the problems I inherited," he adds.
Butler says he is holding a meeting Wednesday night to hear directly from people who live in Plantation Acres, a 53-acre park with around 100 mobile homes.
"They felt more comfortable just seeing me here this morning. So once I meet with them tonight,I'll hear what they have to say first and then tell them what we're gonna do."
Butler says some of the homes will be condemned. "It would cost more money to fix them than it would be just to buy something brand new... Basically, we're going to try to keep [the residents] here, if they want, and put them in another home." Butler says it will be up to him and his staff to determine which homes should be condemned.
He points out, condemning homes will not happen immediately. "Safety is our first priority. Smoke detectors, debris, sewage."
The Code Enforcement Office concludes, "Everything is very doable. It's just a matter of taking initiative and moving forward, putting forth a good faith effort."
Butler promises he is here to do just that. "A lot of this stuff we're gonna be able to do within a week." He doesn't regret buying the property, but just wishes there had been more disclosure in the sale about problems he claims are mostly pre-existing.
Code enforcement says they will prosecute if improvements are not made.
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