The Cheney City Council will introduce a zoning ordinance on Tuesday night that will put residents of the North Cheney Mobile Home Park in the crosshairs.
The ordinance would rezone a lot located off State Highway 904 for mixed-use development, worrying some residents at the mobile home park that it’s just the first step before they are ultimately evicted.
“I don’t want to live in a tent in Spokane,” said Douglas Brunell, a 73-year-old resident and Air Force veteran who bought a mobile home in 2006 and has lived at the park for the past 17 years.
Plans for the property are “kind of to be determined,” said Clifton Trimble, land use planner at Storhaug Engineering, the firm handling the rezoning on behalf of the property owner.
One possibility is a building with commercial space on the first floor and apartment units on the upper floors, said Brett Lucas, director of planning for the city of Cheney.
Brunell and his 81-year-old neighbor, Maria Zambrano, plan to speak against the ordinance at Tuesday’s Cheney City Council meeting at 6 p.m. Both live on fixed incomes and have nowhere else to go, Brunell said.
Most mobile home parks in the area are at full capacity already, he said.
“Not only is my house nice, I like my house,” said Brunell, who pays $250 a month for his lot. “I have pride of ownership.”
Zambrano, who has lived at the park for 22 years, said she pays $225 for her lot. Like Brunell, she is worried about her future at the mobile home park, she said.
Without any nearby family members and few low-income housing options nearby, Zambrano said she doesn’t know what else she could afford if evicted.
The issue puts the city in a hard position, Lucas said.
“I think most cities would like to see a higher quality housing product in their city,” he said. “I think any city would entertain (the rezoning). But all cities realize mobile home parks serve a need.”
The mobile home park is partially obscured by a tree line on the east side of state Highway 904 and is surrounded by grocery stores, gas stations and fast food restaurants.
“It’s in the gateway to the city,” Lucas said. “It would definitely change the perception of the city. That would make a difference for some people.”
The park was established along the highway in the 1940s and was grandfathered into the city’s zoning plan in the ’60s, Lucas said. The park is protected from the existing zoning regulations in the area, but it’s also unable to expand, he said.
If approved, the mixed-use zoning would bring the existing mobile home park more in compliance with the zoning map, Trimble said.
Plans for the development would take about two or three years – maybe one or two if they fast-tracked it, Lucas said.
The owner, Todd R. Tarbert, a Bellevue -based attorney, could not be reached for comment.
Brunell and Zambrano both received notice on their doors Feb. 7, saying their rent would nearly double by April 1. The notice came about a week before the Cheney Planning Commission introduced the rezoning for public discussion on Feb. 13.
Within five hours, that message was replaced by a notice retracting the previous notice, but it wasn’t signed or dated.
“I felt threatened and intimidated,” Brunell said of the notices. “I felt angry.”
Zambrano said the experience has left her confused and nervous.
“The mobile home park could remain there forever,” Lucas said. “It is purely at the discretion of the owner of the park if he moves forward.”
S-R reporter Garrett Cabeza contributed to this article.