Frantic residents call CBS4 after mobile home community forces fence removal

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- A number of frantic residents of a mobile home community on the west side called CBS4 Problem Solvers after they were told they had one week to remove their fences.

Deeanna Harris and her 4-year-old son make the most of what they have, and Harris said while it's not much, she does her best.

"It's really hard here," Harris said.

Harris lives in Ponderosa, a mobile home community on the west side. She said that she moved onto her current lot specifically because it included a fence around the perimeter.

"This is my protection. This helps my anxiety for being here," Harris said.

She said last year, the managers told her she could pay to make fixes to the fence and keep it up. So, she was surprised when in June, she received a "rule reminder," saying she had a week to take down the fence, or she'd have to pay someone to take it down for her.

"Everybody's scared about it because they've got kids and dogs," Harris said.

CBS4 Problem Solvers heard from at least a half dozen residents who either called or approached us at the community. Some said they had maintained fences on their lots for upwards of 20 years.

Down the road from Harris, Kathryn McCoy was furious.

"Ever since we got that letter, for the past two weeks, everybody`s been going around talking about, 'We don`t want to take our fence down. What are we going to do about this?" McCoy said.

CBS4 Problem Solvers started doing some research to find out why the fences were being removed and whether there was any recourse for residents.

An Indiana State Department of Health spokesperson said that while the department inspects and licenses mobile home communities, it does not regulate fences "unless they present a health hazard."

In Ponderosa's last inspection report, the inspector did not mention fences at all. They only noted a violation of unsafe trees that needed to removed.

RHP Properties, the Michigan-based company that owns Ponderosa, sent CBS4 the following statement from its President, Joel Brown.

"The safety and well-being of our residents is our top priority. The rules and regulations of Pondarosa Manufactured Home Community prohibit alterations to the exterior of the home or site, including fenced in enclosures, unless prior written approval is obtained from Management. Each resident is provided with a copy of the rules and regulations upon moving in. We are respectfully asking our residents with fences that were not approved to please comply with this rule. The removal of fences is for safety reasons, including access in the event of an emergency. Residents who have received notices to remove their fences by a certain date can request an extension."

After CBS4 Problem Solvers got involved, RHP Properties did offer homeowners those extensions, to give them more time. A month later, upon return to the community, we found that most residents had taken down their fences, including Harris.

"We don't feel like we have any choice but to abide by what they're trying to do," Harris said.

Since the residents own their homes, but lease the land they sit on, they didn't have much recourse to keep the fences. Harris and McCoy, though, said it would change their way of life.

"We (have) little kids that live here. We have two dogs that live here, you know, they like to run around and play," McCoy said.

To learn more about the laws and regulations governing mobile home communities in Indiana, you can visit the ISDH page here.

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