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Berlin takes owner of manufactured home park to court over floodplain construction

A gravel driveway leads to a spotless concrete pad
Carly Berlin
/
Vermont Public
A new concrete pad appeared to have been recently poured near the entrance to the Berlin Mobile Home Park on June 11, 2024.

This story, by Report for America corps member Carly Berlin, was produced through a partnership between VTDigger and Vermont Public.

The town of Berlin has taken legal action against the owner of a manufactured home park hit by catastrophic flooding last summer, asking a judge to halt construction currently underway at the property.

In a complaint filed in state environmental court on June 11, the town alleges that redevelopment work at the Berlin Mobile Home Park, which sits alongside the Stevens Branch of the Winooski River, flouts the town’s rules for building in a floodplain. The unpermitted work could both endanger the lives of future park residents, the town argues, and jeopardize flood insurance eligibility for people living in Berlin.

Dozens of residents were displaced from the park after floodwaters ripped through last July. The site has remained uninhabited since then, but redevelopment work has recently begun. The town included photos of a new concrete pad getting poured near the entrance of the park on June 6 with its complaint.

Earlier this week, Ture Nelson, the acting town administrator, declined to confirm with VTDigger/Vermont Public whether he had been speaking with state officials about taking legal action against the park owner. But he noted that he had witnessed construction at the park that seemed to fly in the face of the town’s zoning.

“I have observed work at the park that I don’t feel is in compliance with floodway regulations,” Nelson said on Wednesday.

The owner of the company that runs the park, Randy Rouleau, has not responded to repeated interview requests.

The town is asking the court to stop further construction at the property before a hearing takes place, and to prohibit future construction of new manufactured homes and other related infrastructure in the “regulated floodway.” It is also calling for the removal of “all new structures already illegally built on the property,” and is seeking damages resulting from the park owner’s violations of the town’s zoning rules.

An initial hearing in the case has been scheduled for June 21.

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Carly covers housing and infrastructure for Vermont Public and VTDigger and is a corps member with the national journalism nonprofit Report for America.
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