NORMAN — The Norman City Council approved ordinances to streamline development during a lengthy meeting Tuesday night. The ordinances are hailed as positive steps toward becoming more business friendly by local developers and builders.
After long debate over an amendment to post notification of pre-development meetings online, the city council approved concurrent submission of development plans to expedite the development process.
“This will put us in line with what most cities do,” Norman Development Coordinator Terry Floyd said.
Under the new rule, the city will allow concurrent submittal of pre-development and planning commission meeting scheduling.
“I think it’s a positive step,” said Trey Bates, local developer. “It takes out needless delay in the processing of plats and permit applications without reducing the opportunity for public input.”
Council member Dave Spaulding made a motion to add an emergency clause to make the ordinance effective immediately to allow Gene McKown the chance to move forward with a low-income housing project for seniors. To get the available tax credits that would make the project feasible, McKown must meet a July deadline. The emergency clause would make that possible.
The emergency clause required a supermajority vote of approval and failed in a 5-3 vote. Council member Greg Jungman recused himself. Council members Roger Gallagher, Tom Kovach and Mayor Cindy Rosenthal voted against.
The council also approved an ordinance to extend the validity period for preliminary plats, again, after lengthy debate and a high level of public comment. Jungman was the sole “no” vote.
During the non-voting study session prior to the council meeting, city council members discussed the creation of the Economic Development Advisory Board. The EDAB will be a non-decision making board of volunteer residents, most of whom will be professionals with expertise in economic development or related areas.
“The advisory board has no money to spend, so they would have to come to the council to get that,” said Kathryn Walker, assistant city attorney.
The EDAB would be able to meet in closed-door executive sessions. While each business deal would be different, some council members said they favored EDAB meeting in executive session primarily with the Norman Economic Development Authority, which is a decision-making body comprised of city council members.
Also on the agenda was a contract with Del City for a portion of its Lake Thunderbird water allotment, a biweekly recycling contract and proposed changes to the city’s lighting ordinance. As of press time, decisions had not been made on those issues, though the Del City water contract was expected to pass.