The Norman Transcript

August 28, 2013

Zoning issues hotly contested at meeting

By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Zoning issues dominated the discussion at the Norman City Council meeting Monday night. Commercial zoning in east Norman and a zoning request for more parking adjacent to the former Texadelphia site were hotly contested items.

City council members quickly and unanimously approved a zoning change request for the northwest corner of George Avenue and Stinson Street to allow a duplex.

Next up, a commercial zoning request for property along State Highway 9 at the northeast corner of 36th Avenue Southeast in the Bellatona housing addition prompted hot debate among council members before the measure was approved in a narrow 5 to 4 vote.

Voting against were Council members Tom Kovach, Greg Jungman, Lynne Miller and Mayor Cindy Rosenthal.

Miller, who represents the ward where the property is located, was adamantly against amending the 2025 land use plan that identifies this area as a rural designation.

Attorney Sean Rieger said there will eventually be more than 1,000 homes in the area due to Bellatona and Summit Valley residential additions.

“Commercial services need to be where people live,” Rieger said, arguing on behalf of the applicant. “We believe commercial services are warranted and they’re best as a buffer.”

Homeowner Bill Dunham said he is disappointed with the decision. He and his wife purchased their house in the area because it was designated to be a greenbelt area and they wanted to live in an environmentally friendly venue.

Homeowner Jan Rogers also said she wanted a rural feel.

“We consciously chose Norman as the place we want to spend the rest of our lives,” she said. “Green spaces sell communities, the fact that you have a dry cleaner or a convenience store does not sell communities. Driving two miles is not a burden.”

Council members who supported the commercial designation said the number of homes and the proximity of the Marriott at the postal training center identify the area as urban, not rural.

Another debated zoning change was requested by Hal Smith who recently purchased the former site of the Texadelphia restaurant.

A 2025 land use change was approved in a 7-2 vote, with Kovach and Miller voting against. They approved, by a 5-4 vote, C-O designation with special use to allow the parking lot but to require buffers.

Hugh Ledbetter’s home is adjacent to the proposed parking lot site. His attorney, Kelly Work said the parking lot could be accomplished through lower zoning with a special use permit.