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Alpine Woods lawsuit alleges multiple code violations

When tenants at Alpine Woods Resort went without drinking water for 2½ months, the “landlord’s response was to provide one case of twenty-four 12-ounce bottles of water” on the office porch “for all to share." The park has 80 units.

That was just one of dozens of allegations made in a lawsuit filed last week by a nonprofit legal agency on behalf of tenants of Alpine Woods, the trailer park off Howard Gap Road whose conditions triggered a multiagency response and a possible lawsuit to shut it down as a public nuisance.
The lawsuit, filed in Henderson County District Court by attorney Thomas Gallagher and Pisgah Legal Services on behalf of longtime tenant Annie Foster, alleges a multitude of local and state housing code violations and “unfair or deceptive acts.”
The lawsuit accuses Alpine Woods owner Warren Newell of maintaining trailers that were practically uninhabitable. They lacked drinking water and sewer, had no hot water or plumbing fixtures in working order and no heating system. Foster’s trailer has mold, a leaky roof and bad wiring, the lawsuit said. In December 2014 the park had a sewer system backup that spread sewage over the ground in common areas.
Newell declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Under Hendersonville and Henderson County housing codes and state law, Newell is required to provide running water, an operable toilet and bathtub or shower, a “clean, safe and sanitary” exterior, working plumbing, walkways, sidewalks and stairs in good condition and a graded road. The landlord at various times was in violation of all of those requirements, the lawsuit said.
“The roadways are deeply rutted, eroded and in places impassable for automobiles,” the lawsuit said.
Gallagher argues that Newell owes Foster a refund for the value of the trailer as it should have been maintained — in safe clean condition with running water — minus what it was.
“He said if I paid $470 a month, he is asking for $300 out of each month, that’s four and a half years,” Foster said at her home, which was darkened by blankets she drapes over the windows to keep the trailer warm.
“Following several months of intermittent water service, the water system stopped working completely in December 2014,” Gallagher said. Newell failed to get the water restored because he “refused to pay an outstanding sewer charge” he owed the city.

By early March the situation at the trailer park had become so dire that city and county officials and nonprofit agencies met to figure out how to respond.
“The city and the state and the county are working together to clean up what we perceive to be a public nuisance at Alpine Woods Resort,” Hendersonville City Manager John Connet said then.
Since then, city Code Enforcement Officer Susan Frady has inspected trailers at the park and condemned eight units. Attorneys with the city and county have explored a lawsuit to condemn the property as a nuisance. Advocates for affordable housing have tried to find alternative housing so tenants could move out but admit to being hamstrung because there are few affordable housing units available.
Foster’s unit is in violation of city code, the lawsuit says, because it has mold and moss and holes, a leaking roof, no smoke alarms, defective wiring and unsafe stairs and windows and doors with no screens. Among the “unfair trade practices” Gallagher cites is Newell’s response to Foster that “if she didn’t like not having water she could ‘get the f--- out.’”