The Norman Transcript

November 29, 2012

Zoning change moves forward

By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Three city council members vote against measure

Norman City Council members voted 5-3 to approve a zoning change request to allow construction of a proposed apartment complex at the southwest corner of 36th Avenue Northwest and Tecumseh Road.

Protesters from nearby Cascade Estates and Castlerock neighborhoods had gathered 835 petition signatures opposing the change, and many of the residents filled the city’s council chambers, overflowing into the outside hall at Tuesday night’s meeting.

“I think it was pretty clear from myself and the residents that the opposition to this was about the rezoning,” said Ward 8 Council member Chad Williams, who voted against the request. “As a city, we spend tons of money all the time to pay for plans and for people to give us studies of what we should do as far as planning for the city, and then we ignore it. It was all about zoning for me.”

Also dissenting were Mayor Cindy Rosenthal and Ward 1 Council member Roger Gallagher. Ward 4 Council member Greg Jungman, who works for Housing and Urban Development, recused himself because the applicant hopes to use HUD financing for the project.

“We’ve debated this project for quite a long time now,” said attorney Sean Rieger, who represented the applicant.

At an October meeting, the Norman Planning Commission handed down a 3-3 split decision, which sent the item forward to the city council without a recommendation from the commission. City staff recommended approval, according to city reports.

The request to amend the Norman 2025 Land Use and Transportation Plan from Commercial Designation to Medium Density Residential Designation to allow for the multi-family housing project came from OSOI Tecumseh Development LLC and NE Development LLC.

At the October meeting, city staff reported to the planning commission that the multi-family development would serve to buffer the nearby single-family residential neighborhood from the burgeoning commercial area east of 36th Avenue Northwest, but neighbors said they want more commercial development in the area, not multi-family housing.

Rosenthal said while the proposed PUD and apartment complex were very high quality, she believes the city will regret the loss of potential sales tax through development of that area as a commercial site. Williams agrees.

“I think that corner needed to stay commercial,” Williams said. “The city is growing this direction.”

The proposed apartment complex will house 230 units with 65 percent of those units to be one bedroom, according to Rieger. He said the $24 million project comes in at $103,000 per unit cost and represents a significant investment in Norman.

Rieger said rent will run from $800 to $1,200 per month. Components such as built-in garages and masonry exterior are indicative of high-end apartments.

The housing is expected to appeal to young professionals early in their career development.



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