SHIRLEY -- Selectmen Monday night agreed to lift an existing rent restriction so that Wayside Trailer Park tenants can move forward with their bid to buy the park and make it a co-op.
Andrew Danforth, who heads the Cooperative Development Institute, a New Hampshire-based, non-profit housing institute, made the tenants' case to the board. The four-year-old organization "helps residents buy their mobile-home parks" and is facilitating the deal for the Wayside tenants, Danforth said.
Residents have formed an association and entered into an agreement with owner Richard Lannan, of Shirley Wayside Limited Partnership, based in New Hampshire, to buy the 31-acre park, which consists of 64 units.
Of those units, 57 are occupied, according to Association President Harold LeDuc, who attended the meeting with four association members.
The restriction the tenants and Danforth were looking to lift was established 10 years ago, when the park was hooked up to town sewer. At that time, the town and the owner inked a deed covenant that amounted to rent control.
The town's intent was to ensure that the units, restricted to residents 55 and older, remain affordable and that the improvement didn't translate to higher rents.
Now prospective buyers want to operate their own business and may have to raise the rent to pay for needed repairs.
Selectmen were leery at first, saying if the town's agreement with the landlord was tied to a community block grant, they didn't want to be responsible for paying it back.
Town Administrator Patrice Garvin told the board she was unable to locate documentation to clarify the issue but during discussion, with some added input from the proponents and the owner, they settled the matter. The board concluded it was a government grant and in this instance won't have to be paid back.
There's still $157,000 due on the 20-year sewer betterment, Selectman David Swain pointed out.
Lannan said that amount would be paid in full at the closing.
The board voted unanimously to amend the covenant as proposed.