SOMERSET – Travis Sarver is encouraged by the pending sale of the Cherry Lane Estates mobile home park, where he has lived for 12 years.
As president of the Cherry Lane Residents Association, Sarver met with Doug Swartz, of Carlisle-based Swartz Rental Solutions LLC, to discuss the buyers’ plans for the beleaguered park.
“He’s a blue-collar kind of guy, and he understands where we are coming from about the park,” Travis said outside his double-wide home on Monday.
“He wants to come in and clean it up just like we want to do as the residents association.”
Somerset Borough Solicitor James Cascio said Swartz’s bank has shown that his company has sufficient funding to buy and clean up the park, which has more than a dozen fire-damaged trailers and almost 50 more that are vacant, a court document shows.
During a hearing last week, the borough and the residents association gave their blessings to the sale of the park by Divinity Investments LLC, of Chambersburg, to Swartz Rental Solutions LLC.
The borough and the association are parties in a lawsuit against Divinity, which resulted in Cherry Lane Estates being declared a public nuisance on Dec. 7, 2019.
Divinity was ordered to remove the burned mobile homes, secure the vacant ones, repair the water system and do other repairs.
None of those repairs have been completed.
The December ruling by Somerset County Judge Scott Bittner also prohibited Divinity from selling the park without court approval. After last week’s hearing, Bittner authorized the sale, which is to be completed within 30 days. If the sale is not completed within that time, Divinity’s original requirements and limitations will remain in effect, last week’s court order says.
The mobile home park residents banded together and contacted the nonprofit Community Justice Project’s Pittsburgh office, and attorney Daniel G. Vitek was assigned to represent the association. When Swartz proposed buying the park, Vitek helped develop an agreement with the residents association, outlining Swartz’s commitments to fix up the park.
The agreement was filed with the lawsuit in Somerset County Court of Common Pleas. It shows Swartz agrees to remove the burned trailers by Oct. 19 and secure the vacant trailers by July 15. Those trailers are to be repaired to a habitable condition or removed by Dec. 31.
The water system repairs are to eliminate leaks and provide drinkable water for all current residents by July 15, with complete repairs launched by the end of 2019 and completed by the end of 2020, the agreement says.
Swartz will keep the borough and residents updated on the progress of repair work and any changes in the park rules or leases, the agreement says.
If Swartz Rental Solutions LLC does not fulfill the commitments, residents or the borough can take the company back to court for enforcement.
Residents insisted the plan be recorded with the county as part of the court case, Sarver said.
“We want to thank Dan Vitek and the Community Justice Project for all they did for us,” Sarver said.
Final terms of the sale have not been released, but Cascio said Swartz will pay more than $500,000 to buy the park.
However, none of the money will go to Divinity or its principal owner, Thomas Mongold.
Instead the purchase price will pay off water bills and other utility costs, along with back taxes and Divinity’s debt on the property, Cascio said.