Planning commission OKs mobile home park plats
Saying they had little choice, members of the Tonganoxie Planning Commission last week approved land maps for a mobile home park.
The 91-lot park, owned by Steve Sturgeon, is planned for the southwest corner of the intersection of U.S. Highway 24-40 and Smiley Road.
The Tonganoxie City Council will consider the preliminary and final plats for the development at its meeting next Monday.
At Thursday night's planning commission meeting, nearby residents submitted a petition against the park containing 57 signatures. They debated the merits of the park, in hopes of convincing planning commission members to vote against the preliminary and final plats for the development. A plat essentially is a land map that includes details about the development, including lot lines and easements.
But planning commission members said there was little they could do to prevent the development.
The land has been zoned for a mobile home park since 1978. And the plats conform to the city's regulations.
The planning commission voted 3-1 to approve the plats, with Diane Bretthauer, Earleta Morey and Karen Walters voting in favor and Greg Ward opposed.
Neighbors said they were concerned about increased traffic from the park, and said they thought the development would mean a reduction in their property values.
"We feel it would be an eyesore to have a trailer park in the middle of our community," said Rose Yorkovich, one of about 25 people in the audience.
Lawrence attorney Jack Brandt, representing Mike and Brenda Latham, asked the planning commission to delay its decision for a few weeks. He said he had not had a chance to review the plats.
"We want to examine the preliminary plat and see if we want to make recommendations for requirements to be placed on the preliminary plat," he said.
He pointed out that the city's mobile home standards say construction cannot begin until the city issues a permit, and a permit cannot be issued until the city approves the park's plans.
"As a matter of fact, the construction has begun," Brandt said.
"He does that at his own risk," said Linda Zacher, city planner.
Walters asked why Brandt's clients, whose property abuts the planned park, hadn't spoken up before now.
"The Lathams went to the city in March and were told this is a done deal and there isn't anything you can do about it," Brandt said.
Sturgeon defended the quality of his development.
"I'm not doing this to become a blight on the community," he said. I'm not doing this to affect your property values. I'm not doing this to make your lives miserable. I'm doing this to make a profit."
He said the lots will be large and he will plant trees to screen the park from the Lathams' property and the highway.
"This is going to be a great place for people to live," he said. "It's not going to be a dump or a drug addicts' haven."
He said delays in approving the plats would cost him money, an expense he wasn't willing to take on.
"Had you people come to me with your concerns, I would have done my very best to accommodate you, within limits," he said.
The plat for the development was approved in February, but the Kansas Department of Transportation required that Sturgeon move the entrance to the park. So the plat was reworked and approved on July 5. Then the city and Sturgeon discovered that a city water line and an overhead utility line ran on the east side of the development, even though no easement existed for those. So the plat was reworked again and resubmitted.
"This process began a year and a half ago," he said.
Brandt said after the meeting that his clients have not decided whether to pursue their protest.