Rowan County’s ‘Justice 4 North Fork’ group rallying to stop evictions

Published: Apr. 20, 2021 at 4:23 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A small community in Morehead travelled to Lexington Tuesday to make a statement.

People living in the North Fork Mobile Home Park said they were given short notice to relocate. Lexington developer Patrick Madden is involved in a potential sale of the property and plans to build a shopping center there. The people being forced out held a rally outside Madden’s Hamburg office Tuesday night.

North Fork Mobile Home Park tenants said they began hearing rumors about a possible sale last fall.

“It wasn’t until March...when we got the eviction notice that said we had to be out by the end of April,” former resident Eric Bailey said.

Folks with the group ‘Justice 4 North Fork’ are calling on Madden and others to give them more time and money to move out.

“Asking for more time is not asking for too much,” said resident Mindy Davenport, who’s lived at North Fork for 25 years. “This process has been in the works for two years.”

Madden said it’s the property owner, Fraley Commercial Properties, who has control over leases, not him. He said he’s relying on her to work with tenants.

Madden provided us with this statement on the matter:

Relative to the issue of the closure of the North Fork Trailer Park by Fraley Commercial Properties, please understand that as the potential buyer only, Polo I, LLC, has no control over the lease terminations currently occuring. Polo I, LLC, is not the landlord of the trailer park. The seller, Fraley Commercial Properties, is solely responsible for terminating the current leases. Polo I’s contract allows a reasonable amount of time for the seller to terminate the existing leases. Fraley Commercial Properties has the landlord/tenant relationship. I have found the Fraley’s, the sellers, to be reasonable people, and I am relying upon them to work with the tenants. The records of the public meetings of both the City and County will show that the proposed development complied with public hearings that were advertised in the newspaper, as well as on social media and were also live streamed. This was followed by a first and second reading of the ordinance as is required by Kentucky law.

Again, Polo I is not the current property owner of North Fork Trailer Park. Polo I is not the landlord under the existing leases with current residents. I am hopeful the current long-time landlord will work with the existing residents to find reasonable relocation opportunities for all involved.

Several people living in the trailer park said they can’t afford to move their trailers, some models are too old to be moved, and it’s been difficult finding affordable places to live.

“It was going to cost me $3,500, and that’s not including utility hookups, the electric, all that,” Bailey said.

Members of the group said they didn’t know about city meetings where the sale was discussed. Bailey took part in a conversation with officials Friday.

“I think they just figured it they met with us and kind of deflected everything and defer it to other people it would go away,” Bailey said.

Rowan County Judge Executive Harry Clark said he worked with the seller to negotiate financial help for moving expenses for homeowners. Bailey said Morehead Mayor Laura White-Brown provided a list of possible properties to relocate to.

Bailey said he has an issue with how the leaders, sellers, and buyer conducted the sale. He said the families have been displaced.

“If Patrick Madden has the money to buy it, that’s his right and he should be able to purchase it. I fully support that and whatever he wants to build, if the city wants to facilitate that and wants more businesses in Morehead, I support that. But the way they treated us was wrong and, I really think, Patrick Madden with the power that he does have, I believe that if we put the pressure on him, he can put the pressure on the ones to get stuff done and actually help us,” he said.

The existing tenants have asked to have until September to move out.

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