Doug Kennon, owner of Sooner Legends Inn & Suites, said it was “scary” how much time city staff and the council have spent on the lighting ordinance.
“We’ve wasted a whole lot of time, effort and energy,” Kennon said, adding that he feels that the ordinance has “a lot of gray” areas in it. “And there’s a lot of bad in the gray.”
Kennon, who accused the council of “voting in my pocketbook,” is fearful that large outdoor lamps in his parking lot could cost him $170,000 to bring into compliance. He also feels that the ordinance language is so vague that it invites “legal problems.”
“We’re five, six years invested (in the ordinance) and I still don’t know where we stand,” Kennon said. “(And) I think this opens us up to huge legal (issues in the future).”
Chris Lewis, a member of the city’s Planning Commission, implored the council to take more time to consider the ordinance, but his request was denied.
John Woods, president and CEO of the Norman Chamber of Commerce, said he wasn’t in favor of the ordinance, mainly because of vague language.
“We’re not yet at a perfect product,” Woods said.
Atkins was against the ordinance because it will impact residential properties, including condos and townhomes. He also worried that city officials may not have done due diligence.
“I think this ordinance has merit, but I don’t think it should pass,” Atkins said. “I have concerns that property owners have not been properly notified. This is still being called a commercial lighting ordinance ... (but) it is not geared specifically toward business or commercial. This is, in fact, an outdoor lighting ordinance.”
In the end, Mayor Cindy Rosenthal acknowledged that the ordinance, regardless of how contentious and debated, was a long time coming.
“This has been a very long process,” Rosenthal said. “We do not currently have ... any real standards in complete respect for lighting. (The ordinance) is not burdensome to our community and our businesses.”