Residents at RV park in Largo fight to stay in their homes

Many of the residents are disabled, said Emr's wife Jessica, such as her uncle, who's also a veteran.

"We love the park. It's a beautiful nature atmosphere," said Jessica. "The neighbors are our friends, not just our neighbors."

Residents in the RV lot pay $400 a month plus utilities. Many said their RV's are inoperable, so they can't move to another lot.

Attorney Christine Allamanno with Gulf Legal Services said city officials waved their hands when previously asked what will happen to the residents, declaring the land is private property. But she said they've continued to make the developer's job easy by waiving impact fees and declaring the park a brownfield area, a designation that provides businesses access to incentives like tax credits, loan guarantees, and liability protection.

When nearby homeowner associations complained about the new proposal to create the apartment units, the property owner agreed to work with them.

Allamanno said the only people not getting redress are the residents.

"The people left out of the conversation were the people who actually live in the park, some of them lived here for 10 years. They say their homes cannot be moved," the attorney said. "They're mostly disabled people, they're living on disability. They're living on Social Security. They're some veterans in the park. There is no where for them to go."

Allamanno said traditionally, when residents in Pinellas County are being removed from an area for private development, the city requires that the developer find housing for those being displaced. She said that's not the situation at Briarwood.

Christina Twist has lived at Briarwood for 10 years. She said this isn't the first time that she and her neighbors have been threatened with eviction, but it's the most serious case.

"We might become homeless," she fretted. "We live in a trailer that we think is not movable."

There are still steps to go through before the residents are left with no option. The issue will ultimately need to go before the Pinellas County Commission, and Swiftmud will also have a chance to weigh in since there are designated wetlands on the property.

  • Jessica and Peter Emr in front of Largo City Hall

Residents who live at the Briarwood RV park in Largo, off Seminole Boulevard and Ulmerton Road, went before the Largo City Commission on Tuesday night with a simple message: Don't throw us out on the streets.

The property owner, Steve McConihay, wants to turn the 14-acre park into a 260-unit apartment complex. But nothing has been said about what might happen to the nearly 100 or so tenants — some who have been there more than a decade.

Before the City Commission met last night, approximately a dozen residents spoke with members of the media outside of City Hall. Resident Peter Emr said he was going to tell the commissioners, "We've been here for three years. We've made a lot of friends there. Our homes cannot be moved. The nature is so beautiful, it's like living in the woods. This is Old Largo, and I would like the commission to save our homes."

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