The Norman Transcript

January 5, 2013

Projects could ignite debate

By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — This week, Norman city leaders will meet early to discuss how to deal with the Central Oklahoma Master Conservancy District’s imposition of a 10 percent water allocation reduction. In addition, the city council will consider plans for Legacy Park.

Those discussions will start at 5 p.m. on Tuesday in the conference room at city hall. The non-voting session is open to the public. The regular meeting of the Norman City Council will follow at 6:30 p.m.

In regualar city business, attorney Sean Rieger is asking for a postponement on behalf of client Mark Risser regarding a requested change in the 2025 Land Use and Transportation Plan and zoning to allow for a high density multi-family project at 612 Asp Ave., 421-427 Buchanan Ave, 710 Asp and the adjacent lot to the south.

The applicant intends to develop the area into a mixed use building consisting of a parking garage, commercial/retail space and apartments, according to city staff reports.

In his letter, Rieger acknowledges that the city is in the process of creating a high density ordinance and proposes postponing the item until those guidelines have been established. This is one of several postponements for this project as it has progressed through various stages while meeting with strong opposition from residential and commercial neighboring properties.

Another potentially controversial topic for Tuesday night at city hall is an item of discussion, put on the council agenda by the Rule of Three regarding an eastside satellite library branch.

With the city’s allocation for a westside satellite library branch approved and moving forward and the completion of Fire Station 9 expected in March, the resolution proposes to take RFPs for an eastside branch. Additional land adjacent to Fire Station 9 is expected to serve as the future site of a community center which could house the eastside branch.

Money has been at the heart of delays in building further libraries. In this case, it is proposed that money freed up by the transportation bond could be diverted toward this project.

Opponents are likely to argue that money is already committed to other road projects.

The Pioneer Library System recently approved money for a library service point to be provided through an automated 24-Hour Library by EnvisonWare. This ATM-style machine for books allows for round the clock browsing of up to 400 books along with automated check out and check in as well as holds pickup availability.

“We’re hoping that it will be installed by mid-March,” said Executive Director Anne Masters.

The 24-Hour Library station will be an outdoor, canopied fixture and the first of its kind in the United States. Patrons will even be able to pay fines and order a library card at the 24-Hour service point.

If an eastside branch were to be built in the near future, PLS would be asked to find the funding to staff that facility as well as providing technogy, books and materials for the site. The city is responsible for providing the building for Norman library branch sites.

Discussion on the topic could be lively.

On the consent agenda for first reading is an ordinance that will allow voters to increase the hotel/motel tax by one percent raising it from four percent to five percent. Items on the consent agenda are generally not discussed at any length. The issue will be discussed in more depth at the next council meeting as it comes up for adoption.

Also on the consent docket is a potentially controversial request for proposals. The Norman Utilities Authority would issue the RFP for a consultant to provide an engineering report for a northside sewer treatment plant.

“The City of Norman requires preparation of an Engineering Report to investigate the cost of new facilities for wastewater treatment, disposal, and solids management at a new North Water Reclamation Facility. Differing treatment alternatives will be evaluated for discharge to either the Little River or the Canadian River. The proposed WRF site is located NW of the intersection of 12th Ave. NE and Franklin Road,” according to city staff reports.

Proponents in the development community have pushed hard for the northside plant, saying the plant was promised by city leaders years ago.

Opponents say studies have indicated upgrading and expanding the southside plant is more cost efficient and must take top priority at this time to serve Norman’s wastewater needs.




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