NORMAN — With chair Andy Sherrer excusing himself and at least one other commissioner absent, members of the Norman Planning Commission handed down a 3-3 split decision on a controversial requested zoning change to be presented to the Norman City Council.
The council now will have to make that decision without a recommendation from the planning commission as of Thursday’s meeting.
OSOI Tecumseh Development LLC and NE Development LLC, the applicant for the zoning change, asked for an amendment of the Norman 2025 Land Use and Transportation Plan from commercial designation to medium-density residential designation for the southwest corner of 36th Avenue Northwest and West Tecumseh Road.
According to city staff reports, “This multi-family development buffers the single-family residential area to the west from the commercial area east of 36th Avenue Northwest as well as the commercial corner adjacent to the multi-family proposal. This buffer element makes this an appropriate development for this site.”
Dozens of Ward 8 Norman residents protested the zoning change request, saying the area needs more commercial property. Opponents in the protest area also expressed concerns that three-story tall apartment buildings would create a privacy problem for neighboring single-family homes.
Officially, the amount of protest within the 350-foot area of notification was 40.3 percent — not enough to require a super majority vote for the change.
However, Castlerock HOA President Christie Remualdo said she and the Cascade HOA president estimate the residential protest level at closer to 90 percent of nearby housing additions, which collected more than 800 names on a petition of protest.
She also pointed out that several commercial properties in the notification area tilt the protest percentage downward and 40 percent does not represent the percentage of protesting residents who live in the area.
A screening wall, high-quality building materials, a buffer between apartments and single-family homes and other concessions were made by the developer to make the proposed Planned Unit Development more attractive to residential neighbors.