Plans progress on mobile home park
Construction likely will begin in a few months on a mobile home park in northwest Tonganoxie.
Steve Sturgeon plans to build the park at the southwest corner of U.S. Highway 24-40 and Smiley Road.
"It's coming along," said city planner Linda Zacher. "He can proceed now with submitting his construction plans and getting approval on those from the city engineer."
The 20-acre site will include 91 mobile home lots, a recreation area and a large shelter, Zacher said. A commercial lot will front the highway. A combination of vegetation and fencing will screen the mobile home park, she said.
"It's going to be a very nice development," she said. "He will be submitting a landscape schedule, listing the trees and how many of them there will be and their names. With the screening and fencing around it, I don't think it's going to be all that noticeable along the highway."
The mobile home park drew some opposition at last week's planning commission meeting.
"There are a lot of people who would not like to have a mobile home park in town just because there's a negative type of connotation," Zacher said. "This zoning has been here for many years. If he had asked for rezoning now, he probably wouldn't have gotten it."
But the city has little chance of successfully downzoning Sturgeon's land.
"I think the courts would rule that we had committed a taking of property and assess us with quite a large assessment," Zacher said.
If the park does not meet with city regulations, Zacher said the city could close the park.
"It's pretty well-regulated," she said.
Zacher said the mobile home park will fill a need in Tonganoxie for lower-income housing.
"We don't have a lot of areas in town that will handle that," she said.
Sturgeon said the property had been zoned for mobile homes for about 20 years.
"It was in the cards," he said.
Sturgeon said last week's meeting was the first time he'd heard negative comments about his proposed park.
"This process has been going on for a year," he said. "The city of Tonganoxie has very strict rules and regulations about how a mobile home park is constructed. We've already agreed to put in more open space than any other development done in the city of Tonganoxie. As far as it being a garden, it's not going to be a garden. I'm doing this to make a profit. If that possibility doesn't exist, the park doesn't go in. A mobile home community can be attractive and a nice place for people to live. If it's well-maintained, it can be a very nice place for people to live, definitely as nice as any apartment or duplex development. It just depends on how it's run."
Sturgeon's parents owned a park from 1968 to 1994 near what now is VFW Park.
"It was always kept clean," he said. The lots were larger. There were paved streets. It was a nice place for people to live. This will be much nicer than that because of the new rules and regulations."
Larry Shepek, who chairs the planning commission, said the city staff would carefully monitor how the park is run.
"The developer, based on his existing business, would appear to keep a nice property," Shepek said. "His history in this area would lead one to believe he would maintain it in a very worthwhile fashion. He's got a good history."