The Norman Transcript

May 14, 2013

Work on density zoning continues

By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — High-density discussions calmed from earlier disputes as members of the Norman City Council reviewed, line-by-line, the ordinance draft to create a high-density residential zoning district.

A suggestion by Mayor Cindy Rosenthal at last month’s meeting altered the course of the proposed ordinance toward creating three categories of zoning rather than selecting areas of town where specific heights and density would be allowed.

Monday evening, Rosenthal along with Community Transportation and Planning Committee Chair Jim Griffith, and council members Chad Williams, Linda Lockett, Robert Castleberry, Rogert Gallagher and Greg Jungman reviewed the ordinance draft.

Council members Tom Kovach and Dave Spaulding were not present. Around 40 members of the public, including council members elect Lynne Miller, Greg Heiple and Stephen Tyler Holman were present along with additional members of city staff. Public comments were not taken at this time.

Discussion over height and the enforcement of height restrictions drew the most debate.

Proposed heights in the draft ordinance were HDR-1 up to 45 feet, HDR-2 up to 55 feet and HDR-3 up to 75 feet. Rosenthal suggested inserting how many stories each category could accommodate. For HDR-1, the change will read “three stories or up to” 45 feet, HDR-2 will be “four stories or up to” 55 feet and HDR-3 will be of unlimited height.

Council member Greg Jungman argued for 40 feet for HDR-1 zoning and asked to limit high-density zoning in the Campus Corner area.

Other council members disagreed.

“The issue here is getting adequate protection for all neighborhoods,” Rosenthal said. “I don’t know how I feel about trying to carve out overlay districts.”

The change to unlimited height and density in HDR-3 will allow for judgments to be made on a case-by-case basis. Anything over 75 feet requires steel construction, according to building codes.

HDR-3 must be located on arterial streets. Rosenthal and Jungman also wanted HDR-2 and HDR-3 prohibited from locating next to single-family homes.

After lengthy discussion, Jungman proposed a compromise of saying HDR-2 is discouraged next to single family homes and HDR-3 is prohibited.

Staff is researching fees in other cities. City Planner Susan Connors said the structured parking requirement for HDR-2 is an interim measure until an appropriate fee is determined.

The ordinance also creates an architectural review committee. That committee will help police compatibility and other design requirements outlined in the ordinance. The city council worked to provide protections for neighborhoods while leaving as much flexibility as possible in the ordinance.

After the meeting, Chad Williams and Robert Castleberry said they feel the ordinance does not go far enough and that density is too limited in HDR-2 and HDR-3. Some supporters of high density also said limiting high density to arterial streets is the wrong way to approach that zoning.

Joy Hampton