News

Humans, not property’

The Patrician Mobile Home Park on Beltline and Game Farm Roads is the center of a debate in conflicting views for redevelopment and housing in Springfield. VICTORIA STEPHENS/THE CHRONICLE

SPRINGFIELD – Citizens filled the seats and lined the walls in the Springfield City Council Chambers for the Sept. 3 council meeting.
More than 30 people spoke on the possible rezoning of 13.6 acres of land between Beltline and Game Farm Road – the current location of Patrician, a 55-and-over mobile home park.
Several came to the podium with the assistance of a wheelchair, walker, cane or powerchair. With 130 residents, the park is largely comprised of veterans, disabled people, low-income people and elderly people – with some residents being in their 90s.
The argument in support of the rezoning was put forth by Teresa Bishow, of Bishow Consulting, LLC on behalf of the applicant Richard D. Boyles, manager of Urban Transitions, LLC, owner of Patrician.
The application for a request rezoning the property from a low-density residential area to a mixed-use commercial area was filed in mid-March. The stated purpose of the application was to: ”allow redevelopment of the site for a new vibrant mix of uses that will stimulate job growth, support the hospitality industry, and provide new diverse housing options.”
The Planning Commission had narrowly recommended denying the zoning change in a 4-3 vote. Looking to the stated long-term goals of the Metro Plan, Gateway Refinement Plan and the Springfield 2010 Comprehensive Plan, the Commission ”weighed the policies in favor of protecting existing residential neighborhoods and low-income housing more heavily than the policies in favor of mixed-use development.”
However, the Springfield City Council will make the final decision whether to accept the Planning Commission’s recommendation to deny the application or to approve the request. The Sept. 3 meeting was the first of at least two required readings before a decision will be made by the city council.
The testimony included dozens of pleas on behalf of keeping the current low-density zoning to preserve Patrician Mobile Home Park, opened in 1972 and prevent its residents and their pets from possible displacement and homelessness. The park is located at 3522 and 3530 Game Farm Road.
”The City change in designation does not constitute notice of a mobile home park closure,” Bishow said. ”I really want to reiterate that tonight.” She noted that a zoning change was consistent with state and city goals for increased-density housing, economic growth and the promotion of tourism without requiring extensive additions to the existing infrastructure. Her report demonstrated an increase of housing density from 88 lots to 144 dwellings in that space by creating multiplexes to replace the existing mobile homes.
Others speaking in favor of the rezoning were Kari Westlund, Travel Lane County president/CEO, and Nancy Bigley, chair of the Board of Directors for the Springfield Chamber of Commerce.
Among those that testified against the zone change were three local officials: Retired Oregon Senator and County Commissioner Bill Dwyer, former Lane County Commissioner Steve Cornacchia and Joe Berney, Lane County Commissioner for District 2 in Springfield – as well as homeless advocates, sympathetic citizens, and representatives from Legal Aid and Senior Law Services.
The session was punctuated with a gavel at one point to keep the audience and a number of instances of spontaneous applause in order.
One of the mobile home park residents to testify before the council was Bob Manning, who stated that the $8,000 maximum state compensation ”is a demolition value, not a down payment on a house.” He said, ”We are humans, not property.”
A concern expressed by some is that if the rezoning were allowed it would set a bad precedent for other mobile home parks. Mention was made of 900 mobile home park residents affected by changes being implemented in Glenwood. Some against the rezoning pointed out conflicting values between the economic development and higher-density housing objectives with the Council’s mission to ”Promote and enhance our hometown feel while focusing on livability and environmental quality.”
After listening to the concerns from both residents of the Park and other concerned citizens, the City Council decided to keep the public record open for more testimony, both written and in person, before a decision will be made.
The discussion will continue at the City Council Meeting on Sept. 16.
Full recordings of the proceedings can be found at: http://laserfiche.springfield-or.gov/WebLink/Browse.aspx?startid=28270