Deal Between City, Owner May Close Covington Mobile Home Park

The Covington Mobile Home Park on Patton Street near the Licking River in Austinburg may be closed down, forcing the residents of the roughly twenty-five units to find a new place to live. At Tuesday night's Covington City Commission meeting, city leaders are expected to vote on a proposed settlement of three separate lawsuits involving the mobile home park. All the details of the settlement are not publicly known.

Assistant city manager and city solicitor Frank Warnock explained to The River City News that changes to Covington's zoning laws in 2006 affected how mobile home parks existed within the city. The new zoning code prevented this park's owner from changing out any of the units because they no longer conformed to the code. That issue brought about three different lawsuits after the city's board of adjustments sided with the city each time. The owners then appealed the board's decisions to the Kenton County Circuit Court.

Gailen Bridges, a Covington attorney involved in the ownership of the mobile home park, declined to be interviewed when reached at his Scott Boulevard office Monday. It is unclear whether the residents of the mobile home park have been informed of the pending deal that could result in the park's closure. Negotiations on the settlements were still being negotiated Monday. No residents were available to speak to The River City News Monday afternoon. Previous notices of public interest, such as the new parcel fees to fund 911 operations in Kenton Co and how mobile homes would be exempt, were posted at the common mailbox area.

The Covington Mobile Home Park is owned by the same people that own a larger mobile home park in Rosedale. It is likely that that Rosedale park would remain open while the city purchases the one in Austinburg which would likely be used for some sort of green space. 

The Covington Mobile Home Park has been a point of controversy in the Austinburg neighborhood for years and news reports from 2004 indicate that Bridges had fought plans to raze the park then. Emails from 2006 between members of the Austinburg Neighborhood Association call the park a blight on the neighborhood. One of those emails also shows shared opposition to the park from the neighborhood associations in Wallace Woods and Levassor Park as well as the Covington Neighborhood Collaborative.

In 2008, an email from the president of the Austinburg Neighborhood Association tried to rally opposition to another planned appeal by Bridges: "The Mobile Home Park (once consisting of 24 mobile homes) was indentified in the Austinburg Special Redevelopment Area Development Plan (a KRS Chapter 99 Plan) adopted by City of Covington in January 05. This Redevelopment Plan listed a number of properties to be acquired and planned for new development. The Mobile Home Park was listed and identified for redevelopment of eight new houses and park area. The Owner of this property when (sic) before the (Board of Adjustments) in 2007 in an appeal to replace 2 other mobile homes destroyed by fire in 2005. The BOA denied the owners appeal and this is now been appealed to the Kenton County Circuit Court (no decision has been handed down on this appeal)."

The lawsuits stem from zoning appeals in 2006, 2008, and 2009 and any settlement would have to be agreed to by Bridges and the city commission That community would be treated as "grandfathered" use as far as the zoning code is concerned.

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News

Photo: Covington Mobile Home Park/RCN