Blaine City Council voted 4-0 during its October 23 meeting to approve a text amendment to the city’s planned unit development (PUD) code that will allow large manufactured home parks in east Blaine. The vote comes after over a year of debate in planning commission and council meetings.
The dispute surrounding manufactured home parks began after east Blaine developers Skip and Katie Jansen submitted the PUD text amendment request to the city. The Jansens submitted the request in fall 2021 after realizing that, while the city’s zoning code allowed manufactured home parks, the PUD code, which is needed for manufactured home park developments that are five acres or larger, did not. The Jansens have previously said that it would not be feasible to develop a park under five acres.
In August 2022, east Blaine residents began voicing their opposition to the text amendment during planning commission meetings, citing various concerns including housing affordability, environmental impacts and traffic problems.
After a lengthy and confusing process in planning commission and city council, the planning commission recommended during its September meeting that council approve the text amendment only if the parks were constricted to a smaller area. During its October 9 meeting, city council voted 4-1-2 to hold an October 23 public hearing and consider approving planning commission’s recommendation. However, council changed its tune during its October 23 meeting and voted in support of the city’s recommendation, which was to approve the text amendment without a geographic limitation.
Council voted after the public hearing that drew a large group of residents and discussion among members. The majority of the whole council needs to give approval to pass an ordinance, and because councilmembers Garth Baldwin, Eric Davidson and Kerena Higgins were absent, the councilmembers at the meeting needed a unanimous vote.
Councilmember Richard May made a motion to not allow manufactured home parks but it failed without support from other councilmembers. May then proposed council allow manufactured home parks in east Blaine and direct staff to later develop stricter geographic limitations, but the motion again failed without any backing.
“The project can get going and there would be a geographic limitation drafted by planning commission and staff. Once everyone sees what this first project looks like then various areas could be added back in,” May said. “It would have been almost the exact same thing as [the city’s recommendation], but it would have shown some respect for all of the public comment and concerns.”
Councilmember Mike Hill said the inconsistency between the zoning and PUD codes was the city’s mistake and the developers purchased the property with the understanding that they could build a manufactured home park.
“You can’t have a town that doesn’t have any revenue coming in or isn’t bringing people in and keep spending money,” Hill said.
Lopez said city council would closely review the Jansens’ proposal once they submitted an application.
Mayor Mary Lou Steward said council needed to make a decision and could later create a geographic limitation.
“We’re not doing the business of the city that needs to be done because we’re wasting a lot of time on something that nobody knows what’s going on,” she said. “We need to correct this now. There will be plenty of time in the future to nitpick the proposal.”
East Blaine resident Jackie Braverman, who has advocated against the text amendment, said it was hard for her to respect council’s decision because she didn’t believe they listened to the research of east Blaine residents. She added she was disappointed that council voted with only four members present.
“I don’t want to sound like sour grapes. I did not expect that we would win. We fought our hardest because we understand the situation …” Braverman said. “I think in doing this, the city council has engendered some significant ill will.”
Braverman said she was against manufactured home parks because she sees them as an exploitative business model for people living in the communities and was concerned about environmental impacts. Braverman is among dozens of east Blaine residents who have spoken at public comment and hearings, including the hearing at the October 23 meeting.
“This has been a fiasco of having meetings canceled and postponements,” she said. “It’s been absolutely bizarre and the people who have seen this have been really unimpressed.”
Skip Jansen said he doesn’t have a rough timeline on when he plans to submit an application to the city. He said he anticipates the park will have about 160-180 units and cater largely to seniors who want to downsize, though he hasn’t decided if the park will have an age restriction. It’s planned to have a clubhouse, open space and recreational areas, he added.
Once the application is submitted, the Jansens will hold an open house on the preliminary park plan. Jansen asks for people to keep an open mind until they see what is being presented.
“Until we’re able to make an application, we haven’t had a project to present,” he said. “Now we can really put pencil to paper and show what we really have in mind.”
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here