By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
Moore — Residents protesting a requested zoning change to allow apartments to be built in an area devastated by the May 20 tornado filled Moore City Hall on Tuesday night, then applauded when the Moore City Council denied the zoning change request unanimously.
Gene Methvin of BAM Investments asked for the zoning change for property south of Southeast Fourth Street and west of Eastern Avenue to build an apartment complex with 182 units, resulting in 20 dwelling units per acre.
The city council had postponed the rezoning application at the Feb. 3 council meeting at the applicant’s request. Protesters at that meeting said they do not want the apartments next to the existing, single-family neighborhoods.
That sentiment was echoed again Tuesday night, despite Methvin hosting a meeting with neighbors in the intervening days in an attempt to resolve conflicts.
“I’m asking that you treat this like it was in your backyard,” said Mark Sherman, one of 11 residents who spoke against the zoning change.
Community Development Director Elizabeth Jones said 144 people signed a protest against the zoning change.
“We don’t want these apartments,” said Yvonne Smith, who lives around the corner from Sherman.
Residents expressed concerns about crime, noise and traffic.
Ingrid Mills said she is a transplant from Palmdale, Calif.
“What happened in California is as soon as apartments were built, people started moving in,” Mills said. “When the apartments come, it brings a lot of people.”
Mills said Palmdale was a community similar to Moore and experienced numerous problems as a result of multi-family housing. She also fears Moore will be a thoroughfare for drug lords passing through on the way to Colorado.
Jones said the north portion of the property in question was rezoned as C-3 with a Permissive Use for mini-storage in 2011. The south portion of the property was zoned C-2 and platted as the Eastridge Commercial Park in 1986. Both tracts are vacant.
Amenities in the proposed PUD included a clubhouse with a pool, on-site garages and three acres of open space with 95 trees and 100 shrubs. A transitional buffer of two-story garage units would have protected single-family homes from view.
In other city business, the city council heard a presentation by Dr. Chris Ramseyer, associate professor and director of the Fears lab at the University of Oklahoma. The lab conducted a study on high wind resistance, which Moore plans to use to improve building code regulations.
“The state of Oklahoma will have an EF-3, 4 or 5 every two years,” Ramseyer said.
He said recommendations, if implemented in the building code, would increase home construction costs by about $1 per square foot and that the goal is to keep homes affordable as well as safe.
The city council also approved an award for a $199,289 contract to ACS Playground Adventures Inc. for a Veterans Memorial Park playground. The playground was destroyed by the May 20 tornado. Parks Director Todd Jenson said the playground has a military theme that includes a jet fighter and a jeep.
The new playground will be paid for out of insurance proceeds and a $100,000 grant from Coca-Cola. Weather permitting, the park will be completed by May 17, prior to the one-year anniversary of the tornado.
A contract also was awarded for the replacement of the playground at Madison Place Park. That $45,000 bid went to RJR Enterprises Inc.
Jenson said that park has an animal theme and should be completed by May 20.
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