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Mobile home park proposal dies
"More than 40 Thompson Road residents gave a near unanimous thumbs down to a 51-acre, 75-unit mobile home park Saturday afternoon when they had a face-to-face meeting with the project's hopeful developer.The development, which Mill Creek real estate developer Sam Spencer planned to build on wooded acreage on Thompson Road, received a vote of no confidence not only at Saturday's meeting, but also from the Island County Planning Department.Last week, Planning Director Phil Bakke ruled that the proposed development is larger than the county's land use plan allows. Bakke notified Spencer of his decision and told the developer that the largest mobile home park he could build under the code would be 20 acres in size.Even so, Spencer held the Saturday meeting with Thompson Road residents at the Bayview Senior Center. In his opening remarks, Spencer acknowledged Bakke's decision, but said that he was still looking for support for the project from neighbors. He said with enough support and by using a distant manipulation of the comprehensive plan, he could still build his mobile home park. Without that support, he said, the project will go nowhere. He planned the project for senior citizens, much like the Wheel Estates park he owns outside of Langley on Brooks Hill Road.Unless I get positive feedback from this community, this park will not be built, he said.Spencer tried to convince his audience that the development would bring more affordable housing to South Whidbey seniors. Though placing his proposed mobile home park in a more developed, urban and expensive area like Freeland or Langley might seem more practical, he said, the low price of land on Thompson Road would allow him to at least break even on the construction costs.He then asked those at the meeting to send their comments - positive or negative - directly to Phil Bakke in stamped, addressed envelopes he provided. At that, one man got up from his chair, took an envelope and comment form, and left the meeting.Others stayed, apparently curious about why Spencer was asking them for support, even though all but one or two of the people in the room opposed the mobile home park.Many asked Spencer how he could add so much potential car traffic to Thompson Road, which already has a hazardous intersection with Highway 525. Spencer said he would pay to install a traffic light at the intersection, even though the cost would eat away half his profits on the development.Lola Lane resident Phil Pearl told Spencer that he should give up any hope of being able to build his mobile home park. He said he would lose a legal fight to make the comp plan fit his project.You're in for a big legal battle, Pearl said.Spencer said he would not fight the comp plan in court.Thompson Road resident Jennifer Sands said any action Spencer takes toward developing a mobile home park will be opposed.You'll have all of the island up in arms and sharpening their swords, she said.Only one man in attendance openly supported Spencer, saying that South Whidbey's senior population needs such a development to provide affordable housing. His comments were met with snickers from several people.The meeting broke up after about an hour when those attending got up to leave. Most took comment forms and envelopes to send to Bakke.On Monday, Spencer said he will not pursue his development.I thought it was a pretty neat idea, Spencer said. It was something I believed in. "