None of the residents of two trailer parks up for annexation and rezoning spoke at Columbia City Council’s public hearing June 18. But their silence was not because of a lack of interest.
“Nobody told me about” the hearing, said Mahmoud Bar, a longtime resident of Sunset Mobile Home park.
Carl Miller, another Sunset tenant, said residents of the parks were informed about the first Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission meeting discussing the proposal in May but hadn’t heard anything since.
Whirlwind Properties LLC operates Sunset and Ed’s trailer parks on 20.75 acres off Lenoir Street, southeast of Columbia. Ron Netemeyer, Whirlwind’s managing partner, applied for annexation to the city of Columbia and planned commercial zoning. The application was sent to the planning commission on May 24, where it received nearly unanimous support, and was then sent to the council June 18. No final decision was made at the public hearing.
Bar said he is considering attending the next council meeting, where community members will be given another chance to speak, but said he doesn’t think appearing before council will make much of a difference.
“You can say what you want to say, but they aren’t going to listen to you. It’s about money,” Bar said.
Lots of rumors are swirling around the parks, Bar said. “Everybody will tell you something. What I believe is that something’s going to happen. He didn’t buy this property for nothing. He doesn’t care about these trailers here,” he said.
But Netemeyer has maintained that he has no immediate plans to develop his property and will continue to operate the parks if annexation and rezoning are granted.
Initially, Miller said he was in favor of annexation because he thought it would mean city police coverage and bus service for the parks. But now Miller is convinced that Netemeyer will close the parks and sell the property for development.
Miller said he and his wife aren’t going to wait around until everyone is trying to move out if the annexation and rezoning go through. They hadn’t really considered moving before, he said, but with all the talk of annexation and recent personal conflicts with Netemeyer, he said he’s ready to leave.
Toni Messina, communications director for the city, said the council will hear additional public comment July 2, when it votes on the proposal. Normally, these additional hearings allow three minutes for each speaker; however, individuals directly affected by the decision are given up to five minutes to speak, at the mayor’s discretion, she said.