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Dog killed after Colorado mobile home park residents are forced to remove fences

Posted at 2:51 PM, May 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-05 12:36:23-04

THORNTON, Colo. -- People who live in the Friendly Village of the Rockies Mobile Home Park in Thornton feel like prisoners in their own homes because someone else gets to make and change the rules of their community.

Several of them reached to Scripps station KMGH in Denver, claiming the rules where they live keep them trapped in a cycle of threats, fees and fines.

Most of them own the homes they live in, but are still in a state of housing insecurity, they said, because of the management practices of the company that owns the park.

"It's just rough, you can't do anything right now," Anthony Velasquez, a resident of the community told Marchetta, "They send you letters threatening, 'If you don't like it, move.'"

Velasquez and his wife are retired and moved to Friendly Village to be closer to their grandchildren. 

"Yes, very much," said Velasquez when asked if people were being evicted from the park.

He and other residents received a letter from Friendly Village in February telling them the park is now a fence-free community.

Take down your fence "... within 60 days," the letter warned. 

Anyone who disagrees, the letter said, "... does not have to stay."  

"They're afraid of eviction, retaliation, getting kicked out...and that's probably what they'll tell us now when you talk to them and they see this (story)." Velasquez said.

Contact7 drove around the neighborhood and while there were still several fences standing, some neighbors had taken theirs down.

"We panicked for starters," said Velasquez.

That is because less than two years ago, shortly after they moved in, the couple got approval to put in a new fence around their home. The fence they installed matches the one still standing around the perimeter of the Friendly Village community.

"It was about a total of $3,000 for everything," Velasquez said, "Before we put it in we'd have people from the other side coming through, dogs running through, walking from one side to the other, this way that way."

Several residents did not want to be identified said they asked the park manager to explain the abrupt rule change.

"When you ask her a question all her answer is, 'It's in your lease. It's in your lease,' that's all we ever get," said Velasquez.

He said he tried to reach Kingsley Management, the company in Utah that owns Friendly Village.

"I've sent them emails, texts. No return calls, no nothing," said Velasquez.

Commercial litigation attorney Aimee Bove offered a statement a statement on behalf of the village. She said Friendly Village believes, "it is in best interest of its tenants and the park as a whole to become fenceless." 

The letter also said they believe "... the removal of fences decreases instances of unsupervised small children and animals."

When reporters visited the park, there were several unleashed dogs and wandering cats roaming the streets and yards on the property.

The park also now includes a memorial to "Sparky," a tiny family dog and loving companion to a retired couple with chronic health issues who live at Friendly Village.

The family says Sparky was mauled to death by a much larger dog that escaped a fenceless home.

The dog was on a leash at the time, out for a walk with its owner, Larry, who the family said watched in horror, helplessly from his wheel chair.

When reporters attempted to contact Sylvia Navarrette, the manager of Friendly Village, she hid in a back office and threatened to call police if the news crew did not leave the property.

"It was nice when we first moved in. Management was nice. We're at that age we just want to settle down.  Spend the rest of our days here if we can," Velasquez said.

The mayor's office in Thornton, Adams County Commissioners, state Senator Beth Martinez Humenik, and several regulatory agencies would not comment on who was responsible for the oversight of mobile home parks in Colorado.

KMGH uncovered outdated laws with no one to enforce them on behalf of mobile homeowners and a total absence of accountability for the property owners the homes sit on.

As a result, mobile home owners are often left wide-open to financial abuse in a state of housing insecurity with a system in place that allows it.