After a denial of appeal, a controversial plan to create a Woodland recreational vehicle park has been cleared by the courts, a report said.
They say that although the city council doesn’t support the development, it can’t do much to stop it.
The Woodland City Council voted 5-1 during its August 2 meeting to deny an appeal regarding a permit that would have allowed the Belmont RV Park to be established off Belmont Loop. This appeal comes after Joe Turner, Woodland’s contracted hearings examiner, approved the initial appeal in March. A hearing on the appeal was held in June, they said.
The park, if built, would have 67 RV sites with full utility hookups and be situated on 3.69 acres. It also includes an office building, laundry facilities, showers, laundry, and a recreation area.
According to the report, the Aug. 2 meeting of the council approved the signing of the final decision regarding the denial. However, they had already agreed to the decision two weeks prior. Councilors opposed the park on a variety of grounds, including incompatibility to nearby businesses. The park, if built, would be adjacent to a daycare center, veterinary hospital, and homebuilder offices as well as an auto repair shop.
The appeal was denied by the councilors on the grounds that Turner may have misapplied existing laws in his decision.
In the report, Councilor Benjamin Fredricks was opposed to the proposed development but felt that approval would violate constitutional rights. He cited case law that said, “community discontent cannot be the basis for a permit denial.”
Councilor Dave Plaza, who was present at both the July 19 and Aug. 2 meetings, echoed the comments of other councilors, saying that although he was concerned about the RV park entering, the decision was based strictly on the way the hearings examiner applied the law.
Plaza stated that Plaza was not happy with the choice of location and said that he doesn’t believe the park would work well for local businesses, the report said.
Plaza stated that he reviewed all documents and other crime statistics in order to determine if Plaza’s argument that the park would increase crime in the area was valid.
Plaza stated that “Unfortunately, almost all the reports that I have read indicated that RV parks are lower in crime than surrounding areas.”
Karl Chapman, a councilor, agreed that the council was in a tight spot from a legal perspective. He also raised concerns about threats made by nearby businesses to leave the city if they denied the appeal.
A rebuttal by the Board President of Woodland Action DeeAnna Holland was focused on the language used in describing the demographics that the park would bring.
“Woodland Action had a lot of clients who came to me. They didn’t like being the boogeyman for what would happen in your neighborhood.” Holland explained that these are people who live in RVs and campers, “but only receive a few hundred dollars per month of Social Security Disability.”
Fredricks reiterated his agreement to many points made by the appellants. However, legally the question is, “did the hearings examiner apply the law to the facts?” He did,” the report said
Carol Rounds, the councilor, was the only “no” vote in both the July 19th and August 2nd votes, the report added.
Fredricks indicated that the appellants could appeal to Cowlitz County Superior Court. Fredricks stated this was possible at the July 19 meeting, the report said.