Keego Harbor mobile home community says it is being forced out for developer

- In Keego Harbor dozens of families are worried about losing their homes because a developer wants to build on their land. The mobile home community has been there for decades and, over that time, the value of the lakefront land there has continued to rise.

"It's been my home for 17 years and home is where your heart is, and that's where I love," said resident Toni Duke.

She and her grandson Bear fear they'll be sent packing. They and other residents of Keego Harbor's Mobile Home Park flooded a planning commission meeting to fight a proposal to redevelop their lakefront neighborhood into a high-end apartment complex.

"It's super stressful, you know," said resident Crystal Hernandez. "This is our home and there really isn't any other affordable housing in the area and we just don't know what we're going to do."

The mobile home park is comprised of seniors and several low income families. Many were drawn to the area because it falls in the West Bloomfield school district. They say they're being pushed out to make room for people more well-off.

"I feel like we're disposable; we're just disposable people," Duke said.

"There's areas where gentrification happens, this isn't one of them," said Ara Darakjian, whose family owns the mobile home park.

"Property has the highest and best use, and this property has a highest and best use that's not there right now," he said. "The moving of people off the community's property is at least two years out, maybe less, maybe more; but around two years I should say. And that will happen with a lot of notice and a lot of help from us as the community's owners, helping people find new locations to live when that day comes -- and that's assuming that it gets approved."

But the redevelopment plan squares well with the city's master plan. Even so, Commission Chairman Gino Santia says this is not a done deal, especially when they consider residents' concerns.

"I'm crossing my fingers that they don't tear apart our home," said Bear Duke.

"I'm very sympathetic they've been long time residents in Keego," Santia said. "They feed our schools they feed our community. It's a very important part of our community."

The planning commission tabled a vote on this redevelopment proposal. Some commissioners may meet with the park's owners next week.

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