The Norman Transcript

November 4, 2013

Software company to settle in Moore

By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript

MOORE — A large software company is expected to bring 150 jobs to Moore at start up, with more jobs expected in the future.

The company will be the anchor on the proposed “The Pipeline at Fritts Farm,” a 17-acre development proposed for vacant land south of 19th Street and west of Telephone Road.

The Moore City Council approved the preliminary plat for “The Pipeline” on Monday night, along with approving a zoning change from Urban Residential to Light commercial/High Density Residential to allow for mixed use on a portion of the site.

Owner Jason Fritts wants to pattern the development after downtown-style urban areas to create a pedestrian-friendly live and work environment that will provide a high quality of life for residents.

The proposal includes a pond with native plantings and a walking trail, a formalized pedestrian plan and pocket parks throughout the area.

Community Development Director Elizabeth Jones said there is proposed on-street parking in the plat, which would be a first for Moore.

“I have seen a lot of interest in the loft-style apartments with the businesses on the bottom,” Jones told city council members.

“I think it’s a neat project,” Council member Terry Cavnar said.

The city council also lowered impact fees for future multi-family housing projects.

“We are seeing a renewed interest in multi-family housing,” Jones said.

City Manager Steve Eddy said the city’s impact fees were considered “onerous” by prospective developers.

“Surrounding communities do not have these impact fees,” Jones said.

The council approved measures to reduce the transportation impact fee and the sewer impact fee. These are upfront fees paid by developers and will not affect the sewer rates paid by utility customers, Jones said.

Two potential apartment complexes currently are under consideration by developers at Moore, which would bring 700 to 800 units, city staff said.

Mayor Glenn Lewis said the apartments would provide housing to help make up for some of the homes lost during the May 20 tornado.

“Those people shop in Moore, too,” Eddy said.

The reduced multi-family impact fees will include duplexes.

The council also approved going out for the 2014 bonds for park projects as approved by voters on Nov. 6, 2012. This is the second in a series of bonds to be issued as part of this proposal.

The council also will consider using future bonds to enter a lease purchase agreement with the Moore Economic Development Authority to have the money to proceed with two major projects.

The community center and aquatic center need to be done at the same time under the same contractor, Eddy said. Council members agreed.

Financial Advisor Chris Cochran, with Bank of Oklahoma Securities, and bond counsel Terry Hawkins reported on the lease-purchase process and answered preliminary questions. No decision was made Monday night, but the city council will study the matter and likely make a decision in the near future.

Typically, bonds are spaced out to keep property taxes low, resulting in multi-year issuance, Cochran said. But without that money, the city can’t start the projects. With the last bond issuance scheduled for 2017, the park projects wouldn’t be complete until 2018 or later.

To get the money now, the city is looking at a process commonly used by schools. The Moore Economic Development Authority would borrow money to complete the park projects and the city would make lease purchase payments to MEDA for the park facilities until the bonds paid those projects off. Lease of real property is allowed under the statutes.

“There would be additional issuance costs associated with this plan,” Cochran said. “In my opinion that’s the only negative associated with this plan.”

Council member David Roberts said he is familiar with it from school facilities, and it’s a good system. The city could have those facilities and be using them three years before final bonds are issued.

Cavnar agreed and said the savings in construction costs will likely make up for the money needed to pay the extra financing costs.

In other business, Moore received an “unqualified opinion,” or a clean audit. The only issue the city is dealing with is an overly large report tracking unpaid parking tickets.

Some tickets go back decades. There is no statute of limitations on those tickets, and the total amounts equal hundreds of thousands of dollars, Finance Director Jim Corbett said. A warrant officer and a collection agency both work on outstanding tickets over one year old.

“We’re making progress on that, but it’s just very, very large,” Corbett said.

The large amount of data is hard to track in a single document under the city’s current system.

Joy Hampton

366-3544

jhampton@

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