Lakeview Mobile Home Park is located on Weaver Dairy Road with some residents residing at the park for over 15 years.
The park has grown to include 33 mobile homes and two duplexes on the property and is home to roughly 120 Chapel Hill residents.
The residents may soon be displaced, however, as Texas-based developer Hanover Co. has proposed on behalf of the current landowners to redevelop the property. The proposal would be to build an apartment complex, townhomes and a commercial building on the property.
Hanover property management director Bo Buchanan showed the proposed plans at a Town Council meeting last week for 303 apartments, 18 town homes, a commercial building, 387 parking spaces and a new road that would create a stop light at Timberlyne’s main entrance.
“In my proposal, we have identified June 30 of 2019 to be the date of the relocation,” said Buchanan.
Residents of Lakeview attended the meeting and several began to cry while giving public comments to the council, including several children, such as Leya Hernandez.
“I am seven years old, and I go to Estes Hill Elementary School,” Hernandez told council members. “It’s not fair that you are planning to move us from our home. My parents and myself, we are sad because they don’t know where to go. My parents don’t have enough money to buy us a new house.”
A Spanish interpreter translated some of the comments for the residents such as Belen Alvarado, a single mother living on the property, who said she remembers the nights she cried worrying about how to provide a safe and stable home for her three daughters.
Alvarado said she makes less than $10,000 a year and saved money for two years working two jobs to finally be able to purchase a mobile home in Lakeview.
“I have three beautiful princesses, please don’t take their castle away,” Alvarado said.
Buchanan said during the meeting that Hanover is offering to lease roughly 15 percent of the housing units as affordable housing and is considering a $75,000 stipend to help Lakeview residents move. Buchanan added that it was not known if any of the current Lakeview residents would be able to afford any units in the new development.
“I wouldn’t know the answer to that,” Buchanan said. “I don’t know everyone’s financial situations. Whether they’re affordable or not, the timing wouldn’t be right, it would take two years to build it. The timing would be an issue anyway.”
Council member Allen Buansi said there needs to be a draft relocation plan in place before moving on with the plans.
Mayor pro tem Jessica Anderson agreed and said that while she’s upset about the plan, she does not think Lakeview Mobile Home Park will be able to stay.
“If I thought that I could help you by getting this development to go away, then you would have my vote. But I don’t think that’s what’s going to happen. I think what’s going to happen is we have to work really hard to find you somewhere else to be that’s in Chapel Hill City Schools,” Anderson said while trying to hold back tears. “If we don’t go forward with this plan, I’m afraid that the person that owns that land will get you out of there very quickly so that they don’t have to deal with you anymore for the next person that comes along.”
Mayor Pam Hemminger said that a park property on Millhouse Road owned by Orange County could possibly be a relocation option for Lakeview residents, but that the 18-month timeline proposed by Hanover is unrealistic for the council to feel good about making progress together.
“We’ve been talking to [County Commissioners] about working together on a plan to set up our own area that could be used for mobile homes, prefabricated homes, tiny homes,” said Hemminger. “We really, really want to find ways to keep affordable housing in our communities and to create more affordable housing that doesn’t come under constant pressure of this nature.”
The issue of mobile home developments will be on the agenda at the Assembly of Governments meeting Tuesday night.