The Norman Transcript

July 2, 2013

Tornado shelters on hold, Moore will meet with local builders

By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — The Moore City Council tabled items that would have required storm shelters for single-family or multi-family residences, manufactured homes and group residential housing. Also tabled was an item to require bolting and fastening to strengthen dwellings against tornadoes.

Mayor Glenn Lewis said the city will meet with local builders before moving forward with ordinances related to tornado construction and storm shelters.

Some local homebuilders already add tornado-safe features to homes and have since 1999, but none of those homes were in the path of the storm, Community Development Director Elizabeth Jones said. The May 20 tornado hit the core of Moore, which is comprised mostly of older neighborhoods.

Because building codes have changed over the years, an ordinance was adopted defining the tornado area and establishing minimum building standards. The new ordinance is designed to cover this tornado and any future tornadoes regarding upgrading codes for a rebuild.

“Overall, I think we’re going to see a much better built environment,” Jones said.

A temporary moratorium has expired, effective today, and people will be free to apply for permits and rebuild homes. In some cases, permits were started and will be issued now that the moratorium has been lifted.

“I think everybody up here’s ready to see rooftops,” Mayor Glenn Lewis said.

Generous donations have poured into Moore, and the city council voted Monday to have the Oklahoma City Community Foundation administer those funds.

Moore City Finance Director Jim Corbett said people were encouraged to give to the Red Cross, Salvation Army and United Way, but some people wanted to give directly to the city. Corbett said $422,545 has been donated to the city since May 20.

Corbett said some of those funds are earmarked for specific purposes, but about $150,000 can be used for general recovery at the discretion of the city council. Animal Welfare will receive almost $100,000.

The nonprofit foundation will accept the funds, send out thank you letters and track funds for Moore to use as needed — all at no cost to the city. The city council will determine how the funds are spent.

“It’s a mechanism to handle all these funds. We’re not necessarily set up to do this,” Corbett said. “There are no costs. They will do this as a service to us for the recovery efforts.”

Donations ranged from thousands of dollars to $5 sent in by children who operated a lemonade stand to help.

“We have sent thank you letters to everyone that’s given,” Corbett said.

Council member David Roberts said the Oklahoma City Community Foundation is a premier organization.

“It’s a clean way of handling this,” Roberts said. “They know what they’re doing.”

Following past tornadoes, donations like this just did not happen, Corbett said.

Special accounts were set up to handle the donations that came in following May 20, but the task has become too much for city staff to handle.

“We’re just looking for a clean, simple way to administer these funds,” Corbett said.

The agreement is for one year.

In other business, the city council approved final plat for Janeway Distribution Center Addition south of Northwest 27th Street and east of Janeway Avenue for a multi-tenant, heavy commercial use center.

 A tentative date of July 29 was discussed for a joint city council and Parks Board meeting to discuss the master plan for the new park to be built at Fourth and Broadway. Moore voters recently approved $25.1 million in general obligation bonds to fund a major destination park.

This park will be home to an aquatic facility, a community recreation center, a farmer’s market multi-purpose building, an outdoor amphitheater and a two-mile multi-purpose trail.

Voters also passed a quarter penning, temporary sales tax designated for improvements to existing parks.

Joy Hampton