The Norman Transcript

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June 12, 2012

High Density development community forum

NORMAN — Chris Elsey and his brother want to build a very high density apartment complex in Norman within walking distance of the University of Oklahoma campus.

The Elsey brothers are developers who specialize in high density dwellings close to campus and other amenities to promote walkability. Hailing out of Manhatten, Kan., the brothers have experienced some success in this area.

In fact, they are building in Stillwater right now.

Norman has not been so welcoming.

Part of the problem is that Norman does not have an ordinance or city code to deal with very high density dwellings. In addition to the Elsey brothers’ request, there is at least one other application pending in the city at this time, and there have been other high density inquiries, Norman Planning Director Susan Connors said.

To that end, the city has established a series of six public meetings to learn more about high density and discuss what the community wants as a vision for Norman’s future. Monday night the first meeting was an introduction to basic concepts and terminology.

“There are definitely pros and cons of density,” Connors said.

Perceived density and actual density as measured through Dwelling Units or as Floor Area Ratios are strongly affected by design and use of space. Open space, including landscaped areas, balconies or trails, for example, can make high density feel less crowded than lower density developments.

“You can create open space and still have higher densities,” Connors said.

The next public forum will be from 6:30 to 8:30 on June 28 at the Conference Building at Norman High School. Participants will be directed on the site to parking and the appropriate building, Connors said.

The next few meetings will start with information and then people will break into groups for further discussion. Those groups will be facilitated by Bob Thomas and others from the Xenia Institute.

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