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Goldie Road residents may lose homes
Jean Pattelle moved to Whidbey Island five years ago to be closer to her 92-year-old mother. In June of 2007 she pulled from her investments to buy a home in Evergreen Park, a mobile home community. But now Pattelle’s investment may disappear.
A possible amendment to Oak Harbor’s Comprehensive Plan could clear the way for turning the Goldie Road trailer park into a “big box” store or a variety of retail businesses.
The comprehensive plan details Oak Harbor’s framework for growth, said Steve Powers, director of development services, and can be amended once each year.
“It’s a vision for the future in terms of how we want the community to look, feel and work,” he said.
The City Council must decided on any amendments in a single action, said Powers. Included in this year’s amendment are three land designation proposals. On Tuesday evening the Planning Commission held a hearing at City Hall for public comment and to recommend action to the City Council. Nearly 20 people attended the hearing.
The first two applications, lots on 164 Ernst Dr. and 33170 Highway 20, received approval recommendations, but the commissioners could not reach a decision on the Goldie Road properties, the only application labeled as major due to its larger acreage.
During the public comment period Pattelle pleaded with the commission members to consider the residents of Evergreen Park, an age 55 and up retirement community that is situated on one of the properties. Eighteen mobile homeowners lease their plots.
“They’re old, and they don’t like change,” she told the News-Times. Many of the homes, she added, are too old to be moved.
Attorney Paul Neumiller, who is representing property owner Sean Byrne, the applicant, also spoke at the meeting. Byrne did not attend.
Neumiller told the commissioners that each resident received a letter detailing relocation assistance programs.
Robert Lusk, another Evergreen Park resident, spoke after Neumiller and confirmed that letters were sent to the park’s residents; however, the assistance programs are unable to help.
“There’s no money available for anything. I called Olympia and they don’t know when the money will be available,” he said.
Lusk drove all over the island to look for a space to move his mobile but could not find one, he said, adding that he still doesn’t have the money to move it.
His neighbor, Gary Robinson, is frustrated by what he described as Byrne’s lack of communication with the park’s residents.
“There has been zero communication between owner and tenants. People call and write to Mr. Byrne and we’ve gotten no response,” he said. “This man has no interest whatsoever in us as residents or as people.”
Pattelle agreed, saying, “I don’t even know what he looks like.”
The News-Times reached Byrne on his cell phone and he declined to comment. His attorney did not return multiple phone messages left on his office answering machine.
Surrounding property owners are angry about the possible change, too.
Cliff Howard’s property on Easy Street backs up to Byrne’s Goldie Road properties.
“I’ve lived here all my life. My father built this house,” he told the commissioners.
Howard said he saw this coming when the city started to comply with the state the Growth Management Act in 1995.
“We were promised when the comprehensive plan was enacted that there would be some protections in place,” he said. “Where are the protections for existing neighborhoods? Where does this leave us on Easy Street? Is there any consideration at all?”
The land use designation change would allow for 24-hour businesses and “big box” type retail stores to be built on the Goldie Road properties. Howard is concerned that the lights and traffic generated by these businesses will disrupt his neighborhood.
Commission member Keith Fakkema moved to recommend approval on the Goldie Road properties, but the motion was dropped because other members would not second his motion.
Unable to second Fakkema’s motion, and with no other motion on the table, the group decided to close the public hearing and resume the proceedings on Nov. 25 at City Hall.
The commissioners requested more information from Powers to help them decide the matter.
Once the commissioners vote, their recommendations will be forwarded to the City Council for final a decision.