Proposed Woodland RV Park Raises Crime Concerns
Rick Bannan/[email protected]
A proposed RV fleet on the northeast side of Woodland is drawing opposition from local business owners, saying it would lead to an increase in crime.
In a June 1 appeal hearing for a key license that would allow the creation of the Belmont RV park off Belmont Loop, Woodland City Council voted 4-3 to bring the matter back to hearings , Examiner Joe Turner to examine the compatibility of the proposed development with nearby businesses and the potential impacts on crime in the area through the creation of the park.
If built, the park would include 67 RV sites with full hookups on 3.69 acres, including an office building, showers, laundry room and recreation area.
Turner originally approved the permit following a March 30 hearing. Following its approval, more than a dozen people signed the letter of introduction to the appeal, stating that business owners in the area were “in unanimous agreement that this project (camping park -car) will be deleterious and damaging to the Town of Woodland, the value of our properties, businesses and overall safety.
If built, the park would be located near Woodland Veterinary Hospital, Kinderland Daycare, Adair Homes and HiLine Homes offices, and Woodland Automotive and Collision Repair.
During the appeal hearing, Turner said opponents of the park had not provided evidence to support the claims. He said any development at the site that attracts more people to the area would likely lead to an increase in criminal activity, “but there is no evidence that the proposed use in this case will lead to a disproportionate increase in crime over great than other potential commercial uses for this site. “
Turner referred to a statement by Woodland Police Chief Jim Kelly that the best local analogue did not show an increase in crime.
“The city has a motorhome fleet within the city limits and there does not appear to be a significant increase in the volume of calls or criminal activity there,” the police chief wrote in an email to community development staff.
The appellants claim that Kelly was misquoted by Turner.
Those who oppose the park have also argued that property values ââwould drop if the park were to enter. Turner said the language of the code didn’t just consider impacts on property value, although what he considers could lead to those impacts. He cited case law that impacts on property values ââcould still occur âbecause of perceptions about the type of use proposed, but not realityâ.
During council deliberations, Councilor David Plaza expressed concern over what Kelly is comparing the RV park to in terms of a “significant increase” in crime.
âWas it compared to the year before at the park, or was it over the past five years, and compared to which neighborhood? “Plaza asked, adding that the definition of significant was unclear. “Do we have to have five murders for it to be a significant crime (increase) or two carjackings?”
He spoke about his experience as a law enforcement officer, including several years working at Woodland.
âI’m not saying the RV park folks are all criminals, but I’m just saying statistically and historically, every time you put a bunch of people together you’re going to have a criminal element,â Plaza said.
Plaza said several existing or potential businesses in the Belmont Loop area have indicated that they will leave the area if the park enters.
âIf these people follow through on what they say, doesn’t that interfere with what we have in our (growth plan for the city?),â Plaza asked.
Plaza voted to send the case back to Turner, alongside councilors Monte Smith, Janice Graham and Carol Rounds. Councilors Benjamin Fredericks, DeeAnna Holland and Karl Chapman voted against this decision.
In an email following the meeting, Woodland Community Development Director Travis Goddard said Turner would have a removal hearing on July 8. The matter will be returned to council for further consideration on July 19.