The message from the City of Burnsville to the citizens of the Rambush Estates mobile home park is simple: adhere to city codes or pay a fine. However, that message is being met with resistance by many of the park’s mostly senior citizen residents, who claim the city is acting illegally.
The people living in Rambush Estates say the park is private property and they have to follow the code laid out by the park’s manager, not the city’s code. It is where the two codes do not align that is causing the residents to be fined.
An example are the carports many of the resident have. The park is okay with them, while the city says they must be removed, or properties that have them will be fined $110.
"We keep trying to ask for explanations and their assistance in complying and we keep bumping up against walls,” said Kathy Eich who lives in the park.
After 11 years living in the park, Eich says she was slapped with three city code violations and hundreds of dollars in fines if she didn't comply.
“This was a total surprise to all the residents here," Eich said of the fines. “We don’t know why they’re imposing their codes on private property.”
Valerie Sims, an attorney for the homeowners, says 150 code violations were handed out in Rambush Estates over the last several months. Violations were for such things as the existence of carports, trash bins in the public view, and having an awning. Something she says is illegal, as state law gives park management all rule making authority.
“They [residents] can be fined by the park owner, attached to their rent. They can lose their homes if they are not in compliance with the park’s own rules, so why should they have additional rules attached by the city," Sims said.
The city of Burnsville claims they are just trying to comply with state building code, and their sudden interest in the mobile home park was the result of a new "licensing and code enforcement" division. They also say the state statute Sims sites does not mean that homeowners don’t have to follow city code, and they are only trying to slow the aging of the park and ensure safety for the residents.
Neighbors contend they will fight what they see as excess fines and violations.
"The mayor herself said we have lots of problem solvers, well they haven't solved our problem," said Eich.
For Sims, she just wonders why the Burnsville would use their resources to fight this particular fight.
“Their tax payer dollars will be funding this city's effort in housing discrimination which I don't feel is in the public interest," she said.