June 21, 2008

Walworth County Settles First of Two Disputes With Mobile Home Park Owner

By Ted Sullivan, The Janesville Gazette, Wis.

Jun. 21--ELKHORN -- Walworth County officials have nearly settled a dispute with the man who built a mobile home park with more density than allowed, but a second mobile park he owns remains in violation.

Dan Daniels of Milwaukee didn't follow the county's zoning regulations or the plans the county had approved when he built two mobile home parks, said Michael Cotter, county director of land use and resource management.

The mobile parks are too dense and their homes are too large, he said.

The first dispute, which has been ongoing for more than 10 years, involved the Pioneer Estates mobile home park in Darien Township.

The second involves the Pioneer Estates mobile home park in Bloomfield Township.

The county settled the problems with Pioneer Estates in Darien Township by amending its zoning ordinance so the mobile homes would be compliant, Cotter said.

If the deal hadn't been made, the county could have revoked Daniels' conditional-use permit, shut down the park and forced people to move.

"It's good for the residents, knowing that they can breathe easier at night," Cotter said. "There was a real fear that people would have to move out of their homes, but the county made it clear (it) didn't want that to happen."

However, the county still has roughly $63,000 in fines pending against Daniels related to the Darien Township mobile park, said Dale Thorpe, Daniels' Delavan-based attorney. Daniels also has a lawsuit pending against the county.

But a settlement regarding the fines and lawsuit could be reached now that the mobile park is compliant.

"It is a challenge that is yet to be resolved, but we're very hopeful that we will" reach a settlement, Thorpe said. "We've come a long way."

In the Bloomfield case, the zoning violations also stem from density problems, but the work to settle the dispute has just begun, Cotter said. The county has fined Daniels about $8,000 in connection with the case.

"We don't believe they're in compliance with our ordinance right now, but they're working to comply," Cotter said.

The attorney representing Daniels in the Bloomfield case did not return a phone message left Friday.


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