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Wed, March 20

Mobile home park fuels hot debate<BR><I>Zoning commission's action on <BR>proposal angers Chino residents</I>

CHINO VALLEY – The Chino Valley Planning and Zoning Commission angered 18 residents Thursday evening by recommending that the Town Council approve a rezoning request for a proposed mobile home park that the commission's chairman represents.

Dan Hortert, the town's interim planning and building director, said the proposed 16-acre mobile home park would feature 96 units for the homes. The proposed park is at 602 W. Road 1 North and also has driveway access to Highway 89. The park would be restricted to people 55 and older.

The commission recommended the item on one condition: that it comply with all federal, state and local laws.

Commissioners Phil Rice and Jack Owen voted to recommend rezoning the parcel from light-commercial/agricultural to a type of zoning known as mobile home park with a four-acre minimum. Commissioner Darlene Barnes voted against the rezoning, and Commissioner Florence Sloan did not attend the meeting. For the rezoning to occur, the Town Council must approve the item during a future meeting.

Carl Clickner, who is the acting chairman on the commission, recused himself from voting because he was acting as the property owner's agent during the meeting. He took the role that most agents do in commission meetings throughout the state, by speaking in favor of the project after local residents received a chance to voice their concerns.

The 18 residents who spoke against the project were mostly owners of nearby single-family homes. The most common reasons that they gave for opposing the project included that:

• It would lower property values;

• Lights from the homes would shine into neighbors' yards;

• Increased traffic from the homes would cause more accidents;

• The park's roads would not be large enough to allow emergency vehicles to provide service to the homes;

• The homes' residents would not keep the appearance of the park clean;

• The park would take away the area's "rural atmosphere;" and,

• The park would increase crime.

Tucker Smith, a Chino Valley resident, explained his reasoning for opposing the project.

"We are currently building in there (the area), based on the zoning that was there to begin with," he said. "The houses that were in this neighborhood are all, I would say, in excess of $250,000 plus; mine is in excess of $300,000. We are very concerned about what this does to our property values, what we are going to be backing up to. We are definitely opposed to it."

Clickner responded to the complaints by saying, "I do not blame the neighbors for showing concern. … I am here to try to assure you and them that if this project is approved, that we will do everything within our power to mitigate whatever concerns they have."

He said it is in his and the property owner, Herman Federwisch's, power to make sure that the area retains its rural atmosphere. Clickner mentioned plans to build a six-foot wall around the property to screen it from neighbors and that the project would comply with the town's lighting code.

The project also will create affordable senior housing in the area and generate money for the town by using its new sewage system, he said.

Hortert said the project also conforms with the town's general plan and does not violate any laws, adding that the Arizona Department of Transportation will negotiate with Federwisch to ensure that the park will not cause accidents on Highway 89.

When Owen attempted to say many of the same points, the audience repeatedly interrupted him with comments about other potential uses for the property. These ranged from single-family homes to auto repair businesses.

Many people in the audience left the room and made angry comments about the commission while Owen made a motion to recommend the rezoning request.

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