NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:
Norman’s High Density Residential Zoning proposal is just beginning to become a slightly more Norman neighborhood compatible document instead of a developer driven ordinance. The city planners just refined the critical questions of height, density, location and parking. It was only on May 9 the City Council even got to see the latest version of this proposal. It is still far from the citizen input developed over several meetings this summer.
Citizens and neighborhoods still must be heard and then expect further refinement since we are Norman. Developers do not comprise the majority of Norman and should not be the drivers of a plan that Norman residents will have to live with for many years to come.
Council members comment that they are tired of this topic and tired of hearing from the outspoken people in Ward 4; that it is not fair to keep putting off the developers. Even city planners mention concerns about the developers needing to make sufficient money from the projects. Of the five members on the High Density Design Review Committee, two will be Realtors, two architects and one a citizen. This seems much tilted in the direction of developer wants and needs, not what is best for a long-term growth plan for Norman.
Ward 4 is outspoken because the current proposal targets many Ward 4 neighborhoods, though it will encompass all of Norman.
If the proposal goes before the new city council members that is not a problem. It is quite possible that they got elected because of their knowledge of and position on this proposal. Certainly some of the backers of high density development in Norman did not perform well in the last city election campaign.
I live in the Old Silk Stocking neighborhood. Many young couples with children now live in the neighborhood. People are fixing up all variety of homes. Some small businesses are opening nearby. We need to protect this kind of growth, though it may be slow. We need to refine the High Density Residential Zoning proposal so that the impact of big buildings, more traffic and more noise is not detrimental to our growth. We do not need to hurry up and get this proposal done. We need it done right!