EMMETT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Residents at a Battle Creek-area mobile home park say raw sewage has been leaking into their yards and backed up into bathrooms. They blame months of neglect from the property owner.
“It’s been going on for a year,” tenant Michele Metzger said of the intermittent sewage backups at Evergreen Oak Forest Mobile Home Park in Emmett Township. “They’ve got sewers leaking all over here.”
“When this is full of sewage, it’s really bad around here,” another resident, Nero Jackson, said. “You can’t even breathe outside here. I have a little Pomeranian puppy dog. I’m worried about her getting sick. It’s an issue.”
Tammy Pountain lives at the mobile home park and is also a maintenance worker there. She said she and the business manager have repeatedly reported the backups to property owner Mike Forrest.
“(The business manager) put every message through for our people. I’ve tried, he won’t answer me. I’ve done out texts to him, he won’t respond,” Pountain said. “…We’ve got elderly, we’ve got sick, we’ve got a handicapped baby here. We do need a lot of help here, but we can only do so much because our hands are tied.”
Tenants say it’s so bad that they have refused to pay rent, instead keeping the money in an ESCROW account until the sewer is fixed.
Forrest’s reported neglect has gotten the attention of the Calhoun County Public Health Department. Last week, it sent him a letter saying he is in violation of the county sanitation code and that it’s his responsibility as the owner to keep the sewer system working properly.
Reached by phone Wednesday, Forrest blamed the problems on aging infrastructure.
“We’ve got some old pipes in there that keeps collapsing and every time they collapse, we fix and then we have another,” Forrest told News 8.
A July 2022 letter from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs said Forrest had been operating the mobile home park without a license. State data shows his most recent license expired in October 2021.
“That’s just paperwork with the state that is delayed,” Forrest brushed it off.
Calhoun County Treasurer Brian Wensauer also told News 8 that Forrest owes at least 12 months in trailer taxes.
The county health department said in a statement that it is not in the process of condemning the mobile home park or evicting its residents, but that it has ordered Forrest to fix the problems.
Calhoun County Prosecutor David Gilbert said his office also sent Forrest a warning letter. The prosecutor said that if Forrest is convicted of operating a mobile home park without a license, he could be forced to pay fines and serve up to one year in prison.