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Council moves to rezone mobile homes

The forecast is gloomy for Evergreen mobile home park residents.

A vote by the Oak Harbor City Council Tuesday approved a set of amendments to the city’s Comprehensive Plan that may ultimately force a number of senior citizens out of their homes.

Before that happens, the city will hold two more public hearings, one for rezoning of the property and another to annex three properties into the city limits.

Evergreen, a 55-and-up community of 18 manufactured homes, is outside the city limits and is part of the Goldie Road properties affected by the amendments. Now that the council has approved the amendments, Evergreen mobile home park is one step closer to becoming a “large commercial development,” if developer Sean Byrne intends to follow through with his plans.

“This will end their lives much faster,” Netsah Zylinsky told the News-Times following the council’s decision, of the stress caused by the changes.

The council gave the go-ahead to modify the transportation element of the Comprehensive Plan, update the 2008-2013 Capital Improvements Plan, and change the land use designation of 164 Ernst Dr., 33170 Highway 20 and five adjacent Goldie Road properties owned by Byrne.

All the changes, but one, sailed through the approval process. But the Goldie Road properties hit high seas and gale force opposition.

Mayor Jim Slowik empathized with the seniors at an earlier council meeting, pledging to help them through the process as it moves forward.

“I will support this motion,” Councilman Jim Palmer said before council’s vote, adding that “no matter which way we go tonight, Mr. Byrne can still give you a one year notice,” he said in reference to Byrne’s right to do what he pleases with his property.

Byrne applied for the change to his five Goldie Road properties, which total 16 acres, from Planned Industrial Park (PIP) to Community Commercial (C3). In his application, Byrne wrote, “It is my intention to rezone the property for its best use of C3 designation and to create a large commercial development.”

“I have seen a need for this type of development,” he wrote in a letter to the Planning Department, adding that the project could “contribute to an increased sales tax base for the city,” and “aid in the city’s future infrastructure needs.”

But the seniors at Evergreen don’t want to move their manufactured homes, and many lack the resources to pay for such a move. In some cases, the homes are said to be too old to move.

Byrne wasn’t without his supporters at the meeting.

Robin Kolaitis of Oak Harbor spoke in favor of Byrne’s plans to develop the Goldie Road properties.

“Mr. Byrne’s quest provides my family with opportunities we otherwise would not have,” she said, referring to local jobs that would be created through development along Goldie Road.

Byrne did not return messages left by the News-Times regarding his plans for the property.

The amendments went before the City Planning Commission during a public Hearing on Oct 28. Unable to decide on an outcome at that meeting, the commission members requested additional information from city staff and deferred the decision until their next meeting. On Nov. 25, the commission met again on the issue, voting 4-1 to make a recommendation for city council to accept the amendments.

Seniors living in the Evergreen mobile home park, as well as community members who opposed the amendments, attended both Planning Commission meetings as well as several City Council meetings.

Approval of the Goldie Road changes is just one step in a multi-faceted process Byrne must complete before he can develop the property, should he choose to do so, Steve Powers, city development director, said.

Two of the five properties are in Oak Harbor city limits. The other three are not.

Tuesday’s vote approved changes to the Comprehensive Plan land use map, but only for the two properties within the city limits. The remaining three properties must be annexed into the city before their land use designation can change.

The next step for the city will be to hold a public meeting on a zoning change, which will include the two Goldie Road properties that are already in the city limits, 164 Ernst Dr and 33170 Highway 20.

As for the three Goldie Road properties outside of the Oak Harbor city limits, Byrne initially filed for annexation Jan. 23, 2008. A revised annexation application was then filed in February. Council met with Byrne on March 18 and gave the application the OK to move forward.

Powers said annexation is “fairly common,” and that the city gets between one and six requests each year.

“The requests are driven by property owners’ interests,” he said.

Currently city staff are working on the terms of an annexation agreement, he said, but there is no timeline as to when the agreement will be finished.

“Each one is unique,” Powers said of annexation applications. “Once they make it to council, they tend to be approved, but most don’t have any residents on the properties.”

When city staff complete their work on the agreement, city council will hold another public hearing to determine if the annexation is in the best interest of the city.

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