03/13/06 — Duplin wants roads cleared

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Duplin wants roads cleared

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on March 13, 2006 1:45 PM

KENANSVILLE -- Duplin County officials are looking for ways to make mobile home park owners do a better job of maintaining roads within their parks, some of which are nearly impassable for emergency vehicles.

County Fire Marshal Craig Forlines said he is concerned about rescuers being able to reach someone suffering a heart attack or firefighters being able to get to a burning structure.

Many mobile home parks have well-maintained roads, he said, but others do little or nothing to keep them up. The problem is countywide, he said, with poorly maintained roads in mobile home parks from Albertson to Magnolia.

Forlines told the county Board of Commissioners recently that roads in several mobile home parks are rapidly deteriorating. Commissioners voted unanimously to have the county staff investigate ways to regulate road maintenance.

Mobile home parks generate many emergency calls, officials said.

A single park near Magnolia with bad streets generated 73 fire calls last year alone, he said.

"Each home called at least once, and half of them called twice," he said. "We have been on calls when it was rainy, and a four-wheeler could not get through."

Community Development planner Randall Tyndall said the county's building code ordinance requires road maintenance, but that the older mobile home parks were grandfathered in when the law was passed and did not have to comply with the new rules.

He compared amending the building ordinance to "closing the barn after the horse is already out."

And even if the older mobile home parks weren't grandfathered into compliance with the ordinance, the county's current ordinance contains no enforcement measures, County Attorney Wendy Sivori said.

"At this point we can't impose penalties," she told the commissioners.

The county is responsible for getting help to people who call in emergencies, Sivori said, but with poor roads, fire trucks and ambulances could get stuck and unable to access the homes.

Commissioner Reginald Wells said many mobile home park residents are Hispanic and do not understand that they have the right to properly-maintained roads. He said the mobile home park owners are to blame.

"What kind of message are the landowners sending?" he asked. "I question what's going on with that. It's a sad thing to prey on people who don't understand what their options are in this country."