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Tenants living in mobile homes deemed 'unsafe for human habitation'

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JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Eleven mobile homes in such disrepair, the city has deemed them "unsuitable for human habitation".

"They're nothing but a strict safety hazard and a fire hazard," Terry Adams, Chief Building Inspector for the city of Jonesboro told Region 8 News.

The city began the condemnation process for the trailer park but even that hasn't stopped tenants from moving in.

The property owner passed away earlier this year, but city employees say the state of these homes didn't deteriorate overnight.

"If they walk into them, they're gonna see trash, they're gonna see holes in the floors, they're gonna see floors separated from walls," Adams said.

And that's just what most people would see. Adams said in inspecting the house, wires were visible and stripped in many of the homes and sometimes, ceilings were missing.

Outside, the properties aren't in much better shape.

Adams said the mobile homes, located off of Hill Drive, are in such a state of disrepair, it wouldn't be physically or economically feasible to rehabilitate them.

"The manufactured homes basically sat there and died."

Adams told Region 8 News that since the city began the condemnation process, no money has gone into the homes to try to rehabilitate them either.

"We had looked at it about a year or so ago and they're in even worse shape now," Adams said. "Old, rotted, termite infested."

Add in the electrical issues in the buildings and Adams said the buildings are at a high risk for fire.

Though the city started work to condemn the homes in February, it's been a slow going process as the owners of the trailer park, Marvin and Jacqueline Cleamer, are deceased and all of the heirs had to be notified.

Talks of condemning the property were most recently brought before the Jonesboro city council where it was learned that since the condemnation process began tenants have been moved into one of the homes.

"We have had an occupant in there for a year who just moved out this month and we have one more that's living there that's supposed to be moving out next month," Marlene Zelt, an heir, but not the property administrator, told the council.

She told the council some of the homes could be brought, in her words, "up to par" and said she's hired people to start work on them.

Attorney for the family, Marty Lilly, told the council that any work Zelt is doing, she's doing on her own and that the homes were not supposed to be occupied.

Regardless, Adams told Region 8 News that there is no way to rebuild the homes and at this point, it's the neighbors who are and have been suffering.

"You get a home that's dilapidated and on the verge of being condemned...it don't hurt that property, it hurts the properties around it."

Lilly told city council there are buyers interested in purchasing the lot and putting new homes on the lot.

If the property is purchased, new mobile homes would have to put on them within a year of the last tenant residing there so the current zoning could be grandfathered in.

The issue was tabled until the next city council meeting.

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