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Alpine owner gives up, park goes back to seller

Henderson County building inspectors issued a stop work order because Alpine Woods failed to apply for a building permit at a unit. Henderson County building inspectors issued a stop work order because Alpine Woods failed to apply for a building permit at a unit.

The Alpine Woods Resort owner who managed what officials described as a public nuisance with high crime rates and numerous housing code violations has given the property back to previous owners and walked away.

Warren Newell, who bought the property in 2007, is no longer involved at the trailer park in any capacity, the new owner said on Monday.
“Basically, he knew he was finished,” said Don Middleton. “It got to be a bigger problem than he could handle.”
Middleton and his wife, Meri Adele Siddle, had sold the 7.8-acre park to Newell eight years ago. The sellers financed the sale through mortgages of $142,000 and $251,000. The notes were to be paid in full by June 2017. Records filed at the Henderson County Register of Deeds show that both notes were satisfied on June 29. Siddle bought the property in 1984 from the Earl C. Wood Co. Inc. for $245,000, records show.
Middleton and Siddle have severed ties with Newell.
“We didn’t want anymore connections” with Newell, Middleton said.
Middleton, a Marine Corps veteran of Vietnam who has owned funeral homes in Pennsylvania, Mississippi and Alabama, said he has hired a repair, maintenance and cleanup crew of 10 plus an office receptionist who speaks Spanish.
AlpineWoodsDonMiddletonDon Middleton“All the sewer has now been repaired,” he said. “That didn’t take long — two weeks. We’ve got to get the trailers in livable conditions. Everybody has running water, flushable commodes and hot water to bathe.”
Middleton said he has not signed on to all the repairs Newell agreed to make to settle a series of small claims lawsuits.
“I’m not going to take responsibility for something somebody else did,” he said. “At the same time both Adele and me believe that you should be able to live in a manner that provides basic needs, like water, sewer, garbage. Common sense tells you that you don’t treat people like that.”

‘Affirmative steps” to make repairs

Tom Gallagher, the Pisgah Legal Services attorney who represents tenants who sued Newell, confirmed Middleton’s account of repairing the park’s water and sewer lines.

“Mr. Middleton says he’s been at the park night and day for the last week or so,” Gallagher said on Friday. “He’s been taking steps to clear up the sewer lines. They weren’t working when he took over. He’s also done work to restore the water service. He’s taken affirmative steps to make sure everybody has working sewer and working water first. The next step is the roads and then the individual trailers.”
In a settlement agreement in small claims court, Newell agreed to make sure that tenants had running water and flushable toilets and agreed to grade the roads and fill potholes and ruts and repair the trailers. The settlements include a letter from Hendersonville Code Enforcement Officer Susan Frady notifying Newell of specific repairs the park had to make to bring units up to code.

Water cutoff sends Newell packing

City Manager John Connet, who convened a meeting on March 31 of local government agencies and nonprofits to take action at the trailer park, said the end came for Newell when the city cut off water because of a large unpaid bill. When ownership changed, the city was obligated to restore water service. Under state law, the city can’t charge the new owner for a delinquent bill owed by a previous owner.
“We cut it off in Mr. Newell’s name and Mr. Middleton was able to establish service,” Connet said. “We will have to go after Mr. Newell for any outstanding debt he has with us.”
“We think at this point that that’s a positive step and we’re pleased with the fact that he’s making repairs and continues to move forward with that,” he said of the ownership change and Middleton’s progress so far. “We’re continuing to work with him and anybody else that may have involvement out there to get the park into a relatively responsible condition. I think we’re generally pleased that they are the new owners of the resort.”
Frady will continue to monitor the repairs of condemned trailers.
“Even with a new owner, they have to meet the minimum housing code and get those units up to code,” Connet said.

'There's a definite need for Alpine Woods'

Middleton, 73, said tenants have responded with gratitude, bringing him home-cooked meals and even flowers.
“There’s a definite need for Alpine Woods in this community,” he said. “We turn down 10 to 15 people every day looking for places to live, even with the reputation that it has.
“I talked to a young lady this morning that doesn’t have any shelves in her closet and some other things she needed. I said, ‘You didn’t have those things when you moved in. Why would you rent a place like that?’ She said, ‘I couldn’t get anything else.’ By law I don’t have to have a closet and I don’t have to have shelves. But basic needs I do. I did satisfy the young lady by changing trailers with her.”