Some residents seek terms for trailer rezoning

Tuesday, July 24, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:37 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 15, 2008

COLUMBIA— After weeks of uncertainty about the future of two mobile home parks outside Columbia, residents and owners of the parks are trying to define specific guidelines for any possible eviction.

Ron Netemeyer, managing partner of Whirlwind Properties, applied for annexation and planned commercial zoning for Sunset and Ed’s mobile home parks, which his company operates southeast of Columbia off Lenoir Street.

The People's Proposal

  • 1 year notification will be given to all residents
  • Owner will give 6 months free lot rent for last 6 months
  • Owner must maintain property for entire year (after notification)
  • No new buys and no new move-ins during the year that follows the ‘notice of eviction’
  • $700 - $1,000 will be given to all who own their homes or are buying them
  • This proposal must be part of any contract owner makes with any buyer of the property if/when they sell the property

Questions abound about the future of the parks if the annexation and rezoning go through. However, the owners have said that they plan to keep the parks going, at least in the near future.

On July 11, about 30 families from both mobile home parks met with the owners of the parks and representatives from Grass Roots Organizing to discuss the annexation and rezoning issue, said Mary Hussmann, a volunteer with GRO.

Hussmann helped the group write “the People’s Proposal,” listing the conditions they want the property owners to agree to if they decide to sell.

Jason Shoot, Whirlwind’s other managing partner, described the proposal as “laughable.”

“We would go bankrupt before we could do it,” Shoot said. He estimated that it would cost the company $250,000 to $300,000 to fulfill the proposal.

Shoot said that he and his partner, Ron Netemeyer, plan to offer six months’ notice before eviction and three months of free lot rent. The law only requires that tenants be given 120 days’ notice. Netemeyer submitted a letter on July 12 to Mayor Darwin Hindman and other members of the Columbia City Council with their proposal.

Cindy Snowden, who has lived in Sunset for four years, said she understands why the owners might sell in the future, but she still supports the proposal.

“It’s the way of America to progress up. But we’re in such a hurry to do things, we forget people,” she said. “I just want a little protection and a little security to see how much time I have to work with.”

David Nagel, a three-year resident of Ed’s mobile home park, said he worries that short notice before eviction could put him and his wife, Charlotte, back on the street.

“We were living at the Salvation Army when we met,” he said. “We’ve come a long way.”

He said that he and his wife would need at least a year’s notice to put away enough money to move their trailer.

“The last things Columbia needs is more homeless people. That’s what (Whirlwind’s) proposal could cause,” he said.

Last Tuesday, five delegates met with Columbia Planning Director Tim Teddy to discuss their concerns, Hussmann said. To date, residents have collected around 95 signatures in support of the proposal.

On July 2, the City Council decided to push back its decision on the annexation and rezoning request to give the property owners time to figure out what assurances they could offer residents. The issue will appear before council again on Aug. 6.

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