The Norman Transcript

February 11, 2013

Project could be delayed

By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — A controversial high-density project at Asp Avenue and Buchanan Avenue in the Campus Corner area will likely be postponed again.

Applicant Mark Risser is requesting a change in the 2025 Land Use and Transportation Plan and zoning to allow for a high-density multi-family and office project. A great deal of protest has been issued from nearby business owners and single-family residential neighbors.

The city is currently in the process of developing zoning to allow for high-density projects of this nature but may not allow the size of structure this project calls for on the Corner.

Ward 4 Council member Greg Jungman supports up to four stories for high density, based on feedback from community dialogues. Jungman said Risser is asking for 75 feet, which exceeds that. 

Attorney Sean Rieger, who represents Risser in the application, sent a letter requesting the item be postponed until April 9. If the Norman City Council grants the request, it will be the third postponement at the city council level.

Also this week in the city, Norman residents and businesses will get their first look at the proposed fertilizer ordinance. The ordinance is on the Norman City Council’s consent agenda docket, and while it likely will not be discussed during the meeting, first reading postings allow time for study before the ordinance comes forward for a vote in two weeks.

To protect the city’s drinking water supply, the proposed ordinance will regulate the use of fertilizers containing phosphorus. This will impact the sale, use and labeling of fertilizers in the city and requires businesses that apply chemical fertilizers to register.

Lake Thunderbird supplies two-thirds of Norman’s drinking water. The lake has been “identified as having chlorophyll-a concentrations over three times the allowable limit set by the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,” according to city staff notes.

Because chlorophyll-a is an indicator of algae counts, these high levels show that Thunderbird is “at risk of potentially dangerous algae levels that could render the water body unusable as a drinking water source,” according to staff reports.

If the city can reduce the amount of phosphorus in Lake Thunderbird, algae will decrease. Phosphorus levels in Thunderbird were documented in the Storm Water Master Plan completed in November 2009 and adopted by the city council in June 2011.

While there is no single solution to the problem of contaminant nutrients in the lake, fertilizer control and education have been identified as key components.

The ordinance prohibits phosphorus or phosphate being applied to “general turf within the city,” with some important exceptions. Phosphorus fertilizer will be allowed during the first six months that turf is established from seed or sod. It also is allowed if a soil test indicates a phosphorus deficiency.

In addition, naturally occurring phosphate — such as that found in unadulterated natural or organic fertilizers — is allowed. When applied, phosphorus fertilizers must be watered into the soil within 14 hours to avoid runoff.

The ordinance also outlines rules limiting application when rainfall is imminent, from running on driveways and other impervious services and using it near a wetland.

An educational pamphlet will be made available to commercial applicators and businesses that sell fertilizer annually. Businesses will be required to identify phosphorus fertilizers and notify buyers of the city’s regulations.

The ordinance also requires phosphorus fertilizers to be stored safely to avoid runoff. Commercial businesses that apply fertilizers will be required to register annually.

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