The Norman Transcript

June 18, 2013

Almost business as usual for Moore City Council

By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — The Moore City Council returned to normal business at Monday night’s meeting, dealing with zoning change requests and appointments to the parks board. The majority of city business, however, continues to deal with tornado recovery and cleanup — a fact of life this Cleveland County city won’t escape any time soon.

Mayor Glenn Lewis said he still wants to require safe rooms in new construction, especially in multi-housing dwellings such as apartments and senior living centers. He asked for the item to be on the next agenda.

Lewis said if he could, he would require new school construction to have safe rooms.

Economic Development Director Diedre Ebrey told the city council that Moore is open for business, including businesses in a heavily damaged strip center. The restaurant Hummus has reopened.

Ebrey said it’s important for Moore residents to remember to shop local and support local businesses.

“We have not slowed down,” Ebrey said. “We are taking calls constantly from developers interested in the area.”

New businesses coming soon include Oliveto Bistro, which will be a locally owned and operated franchise, and Old School Bagel Cafe. Ebrey also said the Warren Theatre was busy this weekend and reports it has had amazing attendance.

Council member Mark Hamm said he went to the Warren and actually found out that some movies had been sold out.

Recovery continues. A land lease with the U.S. Postal Service at 1600 S. Broadway for a temporary postal service location was approved by the council. When the May 20 tornado hit, 23 people were inside the Moore Post Office. The facility and 11 of its vehicles were destroyed; no one inside the Moore Branch Office was injured.

A temporary new construction moratorium was approved at the request of city staff for the tornado affected area bounded by south 21st Street on the south, south Santa Fe Avenue on the west, south Fourth Street on the north, and Sunnylane on the east. City staff reported that 19 neighborhoods were affected by the tornado, including some older neighborhoods where some of the current city codes do not apply.

“We’re realizing there’s a big hole in some of these areas that we want the council to be aware of,” said Elizabeth Jones, community development director. 

Staff will present some basic code guidelines appropriate for the various affected neighborhoods at the next council meeting.

Permits are being issued now for remodeling and the city is waiving permit fees. Homes that are damaged and not changing the footprint can still remodel despite the temporary moratorium.

The council also approved seeking bids for a housing market study that the Community Development Department will use for future disaster recovery grant opportunities. Eddy said Joplin used a similar process and got federal money to assist in the rebuilding process.

“They got tens of millions of dollars,” Eddy said.

Jones said these grants are not to rebuild what a city already had but to make it better.

“The word I got is they encouraged Joplin to dream big,” Hamm said.

The council also approved the purchase of four Federal Signal outdoor warning sirens at a cost of $25,789 each and another model for $20,478. These five sirens were damaged in the May 20 and 31 tornadoes. Moore still has several sirens that are functional, said Gaylord Kitch, emergency management director.

Moore also is still dealing with removal of junked vehicles in the tornado area.

“We’re trying to expedite the removal of these vehicles, junk vehicles that are in the tornado area,” Eddy said.

Council members approved emergency removal with 48 hour’s notice to vehicle owners.

In regular city business, the council approved a rezoning request south of Main Street and west of Eastern Avenue from C-3 commercial to C-3 commercial PUD for a mini storage business.

The applicant, Box Car Investments LLC, has worked with the Planning Commission and the city council to comply with high aesthetic standards, fencing and other requirements to make the proposed business compatible with the area.

In other business, two years of moratorium on Cleveland Heights was extended for a year.

A new sewer line extension to the south and water lines brought in by another addition to the south could allow the moratorium to be lifted in the future, but staff asked and was granted the continued moratorium as staff seeks to resolve issues with this neighborhood.

 Joy Hampton