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Pet crematorium moves people out
About 30 Oak Harbor residents will lose their homes next to a cemetery to make room for the city’s third funeral home and first pet crematorium.
M&M Mobile Home Park, located next to Maple Leaf Cemetery, is the latest in a series of trailer parks in the city that have been, or will be, demolished. It comes at a time when city and county officials are concerned about the lack of affordable housing on North Whidbey.
A number of residents of the ramshackle trailer park say they have nowhere to go and no money to move. They received a three-line notice from the owners April 29. It states the park will be closed June 1 and utility services will be turned off June 2.
“I’m freaking out,” Karen Lemoine said. She was manager of the park until this month and she, like most others, is upset about the short notice. “Two weeks and I have nowhere to go.”
Ron Wallin with P&L General Contractors submitted a site plan and conditional use permit application to the city to develop the 2.93 acres on NE 16th Avenue.
Wallin hopes to divide the property, owned by Mike and Mary Foreman of Las Vegas, into two lots. He proposes to build an 11,024-square-foot funeral home with a regular crematorium and a separate 624-square-foot pet crematorium on the east lot. The business will be named Palm Funeral Home.
The west lot will remain undeveloped until the market improves.
“The owner anticipates the establishment of a business activity on this lot which will provide a good transition between the existing residential land use to the west and the proposed funeral home to the east,” Wallin wrote in documents on file at the city planning department.
Wallin did not return calls for comment on the plans, but his project narrative provides abundant details.
The trailer park consists of 12 single-wide mobile homes, one double-wide, a duplex and one house. It will all be razed to make way for the funeral home.
All the tenants are renters on a month-to-month basis. Most of them are short-term residents, though a few have lived there for a longer term.
Mike Cannon is a single father of an adorable 2-year-old girl. He said he hasn’t been able to find a new home for his tiny family because he has limited income and poor credit. He and his daughter moved into the park the day after she was born.
“It’s just not fair,” he said. “This is where she’s been her entire life and we get one-month notice. Real nice.”
Wallin wrote in city documents that long-term residents will get moving assistance from the developer, though he doesn’t define what “long-term” means.
Lemoine, the former manager, said she hasn’t heard about anyone receiving financial assistance. One resident, who asked that his name not be used, said he’s lived in the park since early 2000 and only one other resident has lived there longer. He hasn’t heard about assistance either.
Resident Pat Kluksdahl said he and his girlfriend, along with a dog and two cats, are in the same boat as everyone else.
“All of us have nowhere to go,” he said.
Resident Stephen Newman said he’s found another home, but one of his daughters doesn’t have a place to move to. “The high price of housing around here is a problem,” he said.
Lemoine, who lives in a leaky home with her daughter, said she’s researching the legality of the short notice of closure. She said she was homeless before becoming park manager.
“When I took the job, I was told that I would never be homeless again,” she said. “It’s not fair. I don’t want to live in a tent again.”
But not everyone is upset about the closing of the trailer park. Matt Boyeson, who lives next door to the property, said he’ll be happy to see it go away. He said it’s really gone down hill in recent years.
“The mobile park is in shambles,” he said. “The cops are there more than anywhere else.”
Wallin is building Palm Funeral Home for N.U.B., LLC. He is listed with the state Secretary of State as the registered agent for the limited liability company.
The property was annexed into the city last year and was zoned C-4 highway service commercial. Wallin will have to obtain a conditional use permit for the funeral home from the city’s hearing examiner. The hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday, June 5, at city hall.
The site is in a noise zone because of its proximity to Navy runways. It’s also within a critical aquifer recharge area and a geologically sensitive area of the North Whidbey Fault Zone. The project will include rain gardens and biofiltration swales.
The two crematoriums will be subject to the requirements of the Northwest Clean Air Agency. Wallin wrote that the new crematoriums are more energy efficient and have lower emissions than previous models.
Pet cremation is a quickly growing market. About half of deceased pets are cremated nowadays. National revenues from pet burial and cremation services amount to about $150 million a year, according to a Jan. 14, 2007 article in the New York Times.