TRAILER HOMES WIN A STAY OF EVICTION

HACKENSACK TENANTS of a Fort Lee trailer park won an 18-month battle - at least temporarily -when a judge in Superior Court here granted them a stay of eviction Friday.

''If I don't grant a stay of eviction, I'm taking away the tenants' right of appeal,'' Judge Kevin O'Halloran told a packed courtroom. The eviction of about 175 tenants of Ray Guy's Trailer Park, which would have taken effect Nov. 14, was stayed pending the outcome of an appeal in the Appellate Division.

''A fine birthday,'' said Isabel Saunier, a tenant for 25 years, who will be 9l years old next month. The eviction fight at the 42-year-old trailer park has been going on since April l980, when the then-owner, Madeline Guy, put a ''For Sale'' sign on the 3.8-acre property bordering Route 46 and served six-month notices to the occupants of l89 homes.

Last month, Mrs. Guy, the widow of Ray Guy, sold the property to Cadmus Enterprises, a joint venture of Arthur Imperatore, owner of the APA Transport Company of North Bergen, and Charles and Frank Raimondo of the Raimondo Brothers Construction Company of Fort Lee.

As soon as the sale sign went up, groups of tenants began organizing. Some formed a chapter of the state's Mobile Home Owners Association; others became the United Tenants Association of Ray Guy's, which affiliated with the Fort Lee Tenants Association and the New Jersey Tenants Organization. Both local groups appealed to the Fort Lee Mayor and Council for help.

In September l980, the borough passed an ordinance officially rezoning the property as a mobile-home park. The property, originally designated as an industrial area, was rezoned seven years ago for garden apartments and town houses.

''We rezoned the area to help the people who live there,'' said Mayor Nicholas Corbiscello. ''It's really a sad situation. You have people here who don't know where they're going to live tomorrow.''

The rezoning is being contested by the park's new owners, Cadmus Enterprises, and a hearing has been scheduled for Nov. 19, also in Superior Court in Hackensack.

''We think this is 'spot zoning' - and invalid,'' said Armand Pohan, vice president of APA Transport and Mr. Imperatore's stepson. Last November, when the six-month eviction notices came due, there were still l57 occupied trailers in the park. On Jan. 26, Mrs. Guy took the tenants to court; on the same day, Governor Byrne signed a statute requiring that mobile-home park dwellers receive 18 months' advance notice of eviction.

State Senator Matthew Feldman, Democrat of Teaneck, who shepherded the bill, said: ''It's even more difficult to move from a mobile home that's being converted to a condo or co-op than from an apartment, since a mobile home has to be dismantled or sold. With the 18-month notice, this is still freedom of enterprise, but at least it gives these people a chance to get out.''

However, Judge O'Halloran ruled that the statute did not apply in the Ray Guy's tenant case, since the eviction notices had been in effect since Nov.1, l980. On May 14, he signed an order directing the tenants to be out by Nov. 14. In June, however, the tenants filed their appeal in the Appellate Division of Superior Court.

Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, president of the New Jersey Tenants Organization, said that the issue was statewide ''because mobile homes are located in areas where landlords can make a whole lot of money by selling to developers.''

''This changes the land to totally unaffordable homes for the current residents,'' she said, ''and is another step toward decreasing housing in the state. Ray Guy's is the first incident that's gone this far in New Jersey.''

In Lodi, tenants of Costa's Trailer Park, which was rezoned recently to allow the development of office complexes, are suing the borough, the park's owners and the developers who are negotiating to buy the property.

According to the New Jersey Manufactured Housing Association, a trade group for mobile-home park owners and dealers, as of last October there were 314 mobile-home parks in the state.

''The big problem,'' said Tony Butrico, a Ray Guy's tenant for seven years, ''is not just a lack of trailer parks, but the fact that, to get into a park anywhere in the state, you've got to buy another home. What are you going to do with the one you've got?''

''Everyone in the park has been up and down the state, looking for a place to put their home,'' he added. Mrs. Guy, who is 75 years old, is in the process of moving to Lakehurst. About 90 trailers, with about 175 tenants, are still occupied.

''I blame rent control for a lot of my reason for selling,'' she said. ''We couldn't raise the rent for five years; the town said no.''

And Madeline Fair, her niece, added: ''The reason these people can't move their trailers is that a lot of them are junky. Some of them have been here for 30 years. They should sell them for construction - like a junked car - which is about all they're worth.''

Catherine Schroeder, Mrs. Guy's sister, said: ''We tried to get the tenants into other places - Twin Lakes and Liberty Park in New York State - and we tried senior citizens' housing, But they wouldn't go.''

However, Mrs. Jay Sinclair, a Ray Guy's resident and secretary of the United Tenants Association of Ray Guy's, said: ''It costs $2,000 to get into Twin Lakes and $1,200 for Liberty Park. And your trailer has to be five years old or less. As for senior citizens' housing, there's a five-year waiting list for them.''

Michael Kates, attorney for Cadmus Enterprises, calls the park a ''a dinosaur that's outlived its time.'' ''Fort Lee is much too expensive a locale to reserve for housing units 8 to l3 per acre,'' he said.

Illustrations: photo of Isabel Saunier


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Source : http://www.nytimes.com/1981/10/25/nyregion/trailer-homes-win-a-stay-of-eviction.html

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