Archive for Thursday, September 28, 2000

Proposed mobile home park public hearing next Wednesday

September 28, 2000

The Eudora Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday regarding a proposed manufactured home park in west Eudora. However, some Eudora residents are promising the annexation and rezoning request will be met with fierce opposition.

Charles and Pat Shawbaker have seen this type of situation before. When Wakarusa Ridge Estates came before the commission earlier this year, the couple gathered neighbors to voice opposition.

Though the single-family development was approved near the Rose Acres community where they live, they are now fighting a new battle. After learning of the Oct. 4 hearing to rezone land west of Winchester Road and north of K-10 highway, the Shawbakers took action. With petition in hand the couple and a dozen volunteers have combed the city, searching for signatures against the manufactured home park.

"We haven't had hardly anyone say no," Charles Shawbaker said. "I'd say probably 1- or 2-percent said no for this reason or that."

The group has put petitions in Annabelle's Restaurant, Casey's General Store and Bryne's Pharmacy to get signatures. Members canvass neighborhoods door to door and have even branched into rural areas for support.

Over 500 signatures have been collected so far, with more coming in.

"We're trying to help the city council and the planning commission both know what the people of Eudora want," Charles Shawbaker said. "You can't stop the growth but it's the type of growth you have. I don't want to live in a town that's half trailer courts."

The former owners of the 132-acre property, Carrol and Evabelle Gerstenberger said they have no interest in the manufactured home park coming to Eudora. The park would surround their home near K-10 highway.

"We're fighting this thing tooth and toenail," Evabelle Gerstenberger said. "Eudora does not need that in this town and I don't want it either."

She's not taking it lying down either. Evabelle Gerstenberger said she has been out hitting the streets and the township, gathering signatures for the petition as well.

"I've got 100 and I'm going on 200," she said.

Carrol Gerstenberger said one concern with the proposed park is how it would affect Eudora's school system with 440 new homes coming to town.

"About everyone in town doesn't want it," he said. "Our schools are in enough trouble."

Pat Shawbaker agreed.

"We have no room in the schools as it is," she said. "We wouldn't have room in the schools as fast as you could bring the manufactured homes in."

Superintendent Dave Winans said a surge of growth in Eudora could cause major problems for the school district. In late August, Winans sent a letter to the commission stating his opinion on the issue, which could cause Eudora's student population to soar.

If the park were to become a reality, Winans said, there would be several options to cope with Eudora's already full school system. One would be to purchase prefabricated classrooms for additional room. Another would be a staggered class schedule to meet students' needs. Though these options may be possible despite some difficulty, Winans said, the conditions would not provide optimum learning.

"It's doable, necessity is the mother of invention," Winans said. "But none of those alternatives offer a learning opportunity to what I see we're doing."

Another drawback to having a manufactured home park come into Eudora, Winans said, is the district will not benefit financially. The district gets money from assessed values of property. Winans said a surge in growth on land that doesn't increase in value would not be beneficial.

"Compared to using that same amount (of land for single-family homes) would be much higher," Winans said of assessed property values. "Higher than that would be commercial. It's true that higher enrollment bring more operational money, but it's value of property which gives the district money."

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