To The Daily Sun,
And to the Anti-Lakemont Cooperative Group at Briarcrest Estates:
As a resident of Briarcrest Estates and a Lakemont Co-op member, I am responding to the Anti-Lakemont Cooperative Group at Briarcrest Estates sheet on, "Why they think Hometown America should buy Briarcrest" that was handed out at their informational meeting for residents on October 24. I am not speaking for the Lakemont Cooperative Board and/or other members. I will try to answer your 10 points of interest point-by-point.
What we all have to remember is that Maple Holding and Redevelopment, LLC (a Florida Limited Liability Company), is the business entity that is offering the purchase and sales A=agreement to Mr. Mooney, not Hometown America, although Maple Holding and Redevelopment, LLC, is a company owned by Hometown America. In a letter dated September 26, 2013, HA says they "will be the primary owner as well as manager of the property". So who exactly is going to own and run Briarcrest? Please note the name of the company on the purchase and sales A=agreement: Maple HOLDING and REDEVELOPMENT, a LIMITED LIABILITY Company. If this doesn't give you some clue to what their planning to do with Briarcrest Estates, I don't know what else to say, except read on....
— "Hometown America only buys and manages top tier manufactured home parks." Maybe yes, but what happened to those parks that didn't measure up? They may be sold again and again and again, each time probably having their rents go upward and the maintenance go downward. What if Briarcrest Estates doesn't fit into their "business strategy"? At any time, MH&R or any owner can sell the park with sixty days notice (NH RSA 205A).
_ "They currently own over 41 communities in 11 states." The number of communities you own doesn't make you better. It is the quality that is important.
— "Owning and managing manufactured communities on an experienced and professional level is what HA does." Here in Briarcrest, we have people with experience in banking, owning/running a business, financial matters (CPAs, city councilwoman, etc.), and just about any other category of business we would need.
— "They (HA) have deep pockets and will be able to invest more into our communities and add amenities." Again, I would refer you to the pro forma/spreadsheet that has been prepared to show you that within just a few years we would have the necessary monies to invest in the community and add amenities (this is in addition to the "rainy day" fund). Although I don't know what more you could ask for here in Briarcrest Estates — a pool? tennis courts?
— "All of HA's communities have lawn mowing and plowing done by management." Did you know that Mr. Mooney has said that he charges Briarcrest Estates approximately $60,000 per year for snow plowing AND $60,000 per year for lawn mowing? The Co-op Interim Board has already sought out and received quotes from local companies for these services at lower prices. As a group/community we have a lot of buying power! Maybe we could even lower our heating costs if we bargained as a group.
— "Positive feedback on HA management practices." Co-op members have also heard directly from people at other MH&R and/or HA communities that MH&R and/or HA does NOT do a good job managing their communities. Guess it depends on who you talk to.
— "Hometown America will NOT make the community a no-dog park." As far as I know, Lakemont Co-op has no plans to forbid dogs in the park. Under Mark Mooney's Briarcrest Estates Park Rules and Regulations that are in effect now: "V. Pets: Pets are permitted only at the discretion of the park owner. Pet owners must observe the following guidelines: 1. The pet is a house type pet and will be kept indoors at all times, except during walking periods. 2. When outdoors, the pet will be kept on a leash and in the presence of its custodian. 3. Pets may not be kept outside. Pets must be attended at all times. 4. Pet owners are required to clean up after their pet and keep the pet quiet and unobtrusive to their neighbors. 5. Dogs larger than lap size are not permitted." This is the only mention I can find in the Rules & Regulations about dogs and the Co-op has said it will follow the Rules & Regulations already in place unless it is brought up before the Co-op Board and membership for a majority (51 percent) vote.
— "Hometown America will be honoring our leases and therefore only raising the rent once a year based on the same parameters stated in our leases." The Co-op has also said they would honor all 241 leases in their Purchase and Sales agreement that Mr. Mooney refuses to accept, the same as MH&R and/or HA. Actually, HA has stated that "all existing leases and terms outlined in those leases will be recognized by Hometown." What is the difference between "honor" and "recognized"? Semantics? NH RSA 205A permits increases in lot rents with a 60-day notice, so effectively, your lot rent could change every two months if an owner so desires.
— "They have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau." I assume "They" means Hometown America. That is the BBB rating for the sum total of communities they own, as the HA corporation headquartered in Chicago. But is it for each individual park/community in the city/town, county, and state where they are located under the many different limited liability companies that are under the umbrella of HA? No.
— Complaints lodged against HA: Several of the complaints were lodged by about five different people who were hired as a manager of a HA park. They said they were given no training, no backup, just dropped into place with nothing to go by — sink or swim. Other complaints were from residents/tenants of HA parks/communities mostly about not being able to sell their homes because HA had not kept up the grounds and/or there were too many rental units* in the park. And those were not the only complaints we could find on the Internet! How many homeowners in their parks want to say something but are afraid to because of retribution? How many homeowners are in fear of retribution in your organization? Quite a few from what I heard at the meeting.
(* "Rental Units" meaning that the homeowners had to rent because they could not sell their homes due to the reputation of their park.)
Please people, look at this as taking control of your future! Don't let someone in Chicago determine the future of Briarcrest Estates! Keep everything local — from the Co-op Board members to the Co-op members to the local services we hire. If you want to sit back and do nothing that's your option, but let us help keep everything local, financially and otherwise. Nobody in Briarcrest is going to get rich if the Co-op buys and runs the park, but other people will make money if you allow Maple Holding and Redevelopment, LLC and/or Hometown America to buy OUR park. If the Lakemont Cooperative is allowed to purchase Briarcrest Estates, ALL the money will stay here (locally) and we can all make Briarcrest an even better place to live!