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January 15, 2014

University, Norman City Council come together to create new visioning committee

NORMAN — Norman will tackle high-density development again, this time from the perspective of a study to create a vision for core Norman.

High-density discussions starting in June 2012 ended without conclusion in June 2013. Now, an agreement between the city and the University of Oklahoma will allow for a different approach to development and redevelopment in central and downtown Norman.

Previous high-density discussions focused primarily on development proposals in the Campus Corner area. During that dialogue, proponents of high density met with strong resistance from some Ward 4 residents and Campus Corner businesses that cited traffic and parking as primary concerns.

The hotly debated dicussions were tabled without formal city council action after a development proposal on Asp Avenue was withdrawn and OU offered to partner with the city to create a vision for a stretch of central Norman that includes Campus Corner and extends to the downtown commercial corridor.

That vision might or might not include high-density zones, said city leaders, but supporters of allowing smaller footprint, upwardly urban lifestyle zoning were encouraged Tuesday night as city council members voted to approve a Memorandum of Understanding with OU.

The MOU comes with a $100,000 price tag — the city’s half of a $200,000 consultant fee.

Norman Chamber of Commerce President John Woods said the agreement creates an opportunity to bring in experts to help Norman with the visioning process.

“I have great hopes and great expectations for this,” Woods said.

The area roughly included in the study runs from Gray and Tonhawa streets on the north along the railroad on the east and Boyd Street on the south. The western boundary runs from Boyd Street north along the lots fronting Elm Avenue to Park Drive, then north on Park Drive to Comanche Street. From Comanche Street to Lahoma Avenue, it then runs west to Flood Avenue and back north toward Gray.

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