Land issue may end today

Developer to file papers changing New Colony's mobile home designation

Aim is to be able to sell, refinance

April 01, 2005|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

Long-suffering residents of New Colony Village, the manufactured-home community in Jessup, are hoping the legal limbo that has left them unable to sell or refinance their homes for over two years will finally end today.

Wayne Newsome, developer of the 228-unit development off U.S. 1, told more than 100 people Wednesday night that he will deliver the final legal documents to Howard County officials by noon - barring some last-minute, unforeseen complication. If he keeps that deadline, the county can then record the subdivision, transforming what is legally a mobile home park into real property in which each homeowner owns the land on which his or her house sits. The residents have not been able to sell their homes because they do not own the land under them, and banks have refused to finance new mortgages.

"We're going to file the subdivision Friday morning. It's been quite a process," Newsome told the residents at the meeting, held in the New Colony community center. "Thank all of you for your patience. I know a lot of you have been through a great deal."

A brief silence followed Newsome's comment, until resident Linda Webster asked the question on many minds.

"Is this a complete promise now? You told us that in February," Webster said.

Newsome had promised residents he would deliver the final documents by Dec. 22, then pushed that back to January, then to Feb. 15 and finally to March 31. Newsome refused to speak to a reporter after the meeting, but county officials said the latest delay was to allow him to refinance the community center and swimming pool to erase a lien on those facilities.

Newsome said residents should receive packets in the mail next week offering the sale of the individual house lots. Land prices range from $72,900 to $79,900, depending on size and model of each house.

"We're there. I just want to thank all of you," Newsome added, as smiles and a smattering of applause came from many in the audience, but not all.

"I'll thank them on Friday," four-year resident Charlotte Forjore , said loudly from a front seat.

Shellyn McMillian, 35, who said she paid $120,000 for her house without the lot when it was new in 1997, told the crowd she has already benefited from the impending subdivision into individual lots.

"I put my house up for sale, and I had two contracts in three days," she said. She sold for $291,500, including the lot - $5,000 more than her asking price, she said.

Many residents have said they love their homes and the sense of community in New Colony, which was conceived as a way to provide affordable housing for middle-class families. But the long legal struggle has changed some opinions.

Oscar Valera, a three-year resident, said some people have been let down too often.

"A lot of people now just want to get out because of the situation," he said. "I can't blame them."

Herman Charity, special assistant to Howard County Executive James N. Robey, told the group that the county has had three attorneys working with six of Newsome's lawyers to make sure the final legal work is done on time.

Charity also helped solve another problem by arranging with state transportation officials for residents to drop any designation as mobile homes their units have with the Motor Vehicle Administration.

Since the houses were legally classified mobile homes, however, buyers paid their purchase taxes to the Motor Vehicle Administration, and received a vehicle title. Now, residents want to eliminate any mention of mobile homes for a community that looks and feels like any other detached-home development. They can sign their titles over to their bank when they go to settlement on the subdivision conversion, and bank may request the MVA to purge the records, according to a letter to Charity from Deborah Rogers, manager of the MVA's motor vehicle Services Division.

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