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Manufactured home parks could offer unique opportunities in a new economic era, according to a Salt Lake County lawmaker who has introduced legislation that would seek answers to the challenges facing them.

Rep. Tim Cosgrove, D-Murray, is running HB108 that would establish a task force from various segments of the community to identify the pros and cons of ownership for what used to be called mobile homes. It also would seek answers to challenges facing park owners.

Manufactured homes could be among the solutions for baby boomers heading into retirement, Cosgrove said. "Every day 10,000 seniors retire," he said. "It brings up a huge challenge for finding retirement homes."

But no new manufactured home parks have opened along the Wasatch Front in 20 years, he said.

Cosgrove said his bill seeks to bring park owners, homeowners and other interested parties together to identify problems. "It's an initial step," he said.

The legislation comes as residents of Applewood Manufactured Home Park in Midvale — in Cosgrove's district — are calling foul on an Ivory Homes subsidiary for hiking pad fees twice in a year. They believe they are being pushed out for a future high-density development along the TRAX line at 7500 S. 200 West.

Shirlene Stoven, who heads up the Applewood Homeowners Association, said she favors HB108.

"This isn't going to save us from Ivory Homes right now," she said. "But it's a first step to waking up Ivory Homes and maybe helping other owners of manufactured homes."

Rick Bills, who owns and operates a West Valley manufactured home park called American Heritage Retirement Community, said he is not against a task force but said the structure of the body as outlined in Cosgrove's bill is lopsided in favor of residents. "We're actually in favor of a task force," he said. "We just want to make sure it's balanced."

Park owners face many challenges, he said, including paying higher water rates than single-family homeowners. Further, he said that many problems facing homeowners and park owners are national economic issues.

"A task force isn't a bad idea, but no one should expect magic coming out of it," he said.

Georgia Buckley, of the Utah Coalition of Manufactured Homeowners, said, "We have a lot of work to do" to get HB108 passed out of the Utah House.

"This would open the communication lines and look at the whole industry," she said. "But the park owners have never been willing to come to the table before."