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South Florida Sun - Sentinel; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Apr 18, 2002;

On Wednesday night, with a companion close, Dempsey sat in the front row in a packed meeting room at City Hall and listened to the fate of the trailer park. "I don't want to move," said Dempsey, who remembers when she bought the place for about $5,000 years ago. But after more than an hour of testimony, the city's Planning and Zoning Board approved the variances necessary for a developer to clear Griffin Lakes and Highland Park, side-by-side trailer parks on Griffin Road, west of Interstate 95. The trailer parks would be replaced by 427 town houses. The issue will now go before the commission. Emotions ran high at the standing-room-only meeting, where about 150 people of various ages and backgrounds questioned why the city would choose to evict them to make way for another residential community. "You have a community in front of yourself and you're trying to build another one," said Cristen Nunez, who has lived in the trailer park for seven months. Bonnie Miskel, the attorney representing the developer of the site, MKN of Miami, told the board that the city currently brings in $134,000 in taxes from the mobile homes. Miskel said the new townhouses would net the city about $1.4 million in property taxes. The developer will assist mobile home owners with relocating, said Miskel, who gave the board documents showing that other mobile parks have vacancies. She said they have talked with Dempsey, and will help others with special needs. "She doesn't want to move," said Miskel after the hearing. "Unfortunately, everyone can't live where they want to live." But the homeowners are not ready to give up. They've hired attorney Louis St. Laurent, who testified that proper notice was not given to the mobile home association. St. Laurent said the notice was supposed to be received within five days of March 18, but was delivered on April 4. St. Laurent also said that no study has been conducted to see whether the about 300 residents who live in the park can be relocated. Most mobile communities do not accept people who have trailers that are more than 5 years old, said St. Laurent, who said the majority of the trailers at Griffin Lakes and Highland Park are much older. "You would be throwing 300 people out of their homes, plain and simple," said St. Laurent. City Attorney Thomas Ansbro said the board could not address the issue of whether or not proper notice was given, but he said the City Commission would want to know more about whether the residents could be relocated. "I can't promise you that you will have a place to go," said Ansbro, who said residents should learn their rights under the state statutes. "I wish to God that I could."