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Dog killed after residents are forced to remove fences in Thornton community

Contact7 helps with predatory management practices
Posted: 3:51 PM, May 04, 2018
Updated: 2018-05-05 12:13:57-04

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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 out to Contact7, telling Denver7 reporter Theresa Marchetta 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. 

"Are people afraid of being evicted?" Marchetta asked.

"Yes, very much," said Velasquez.

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," Velasquez said regarding how his neighbors are responding to the rule change, "and that's probably what they'll tell us now when you talk to them and they see this (story)."

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 Marchetta talked with who 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.

So Contact7 gave it a try and did get one response from local commercial litigation attorney Aimee Bove.

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."

Really?

When Contact7 visited the park there were several unleashed dogs and wandering cats roaming the streets and yards on the property.

Marchetta also found 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 told Marchetta 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 dad, Larry, who the family said watched in horror, helplessly from his wheel chair.

Contact7 decided to ask Sylvia Navarrette, the manager of Friendly Village, how a policy that has already resulted in one dog's death is in the tenant’s best interest. 

But when Theresa Marchetta went into the office and asked to talk to Navarrette, she hid in a back office and threatened to call police if Contact7 did not leave the property.

Marchetta left, but promised Velasquez and others at Friendly Village she would keep digging.

"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," said Velasquez.

Contact7 called multiple government agencies, including the mayor's office in Thornton, Adams County Commissioners, state Senator Beth Martinez Humenik, and several regulatory agencies.

No one would talk on camera about the responsibility for the oversight of mobile home parks in Colorado.

Marchetta 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.