The Norman Transcript

Opinion

December 23, 2012

City favors compatible building heights

NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:

In your Dec. 18 news article titled “High-density zoning district currently under construction,” I was accurately characterized as “adamant” about a three-story height limit on Campus Corner for new residential development. The article, however, did not have the space to explain how I carefully arrived at this position.

First, a preference for three-story heights on Campus Corner is the strongly held opinion of our community. The city invited the entire community and our development partners to six dialogues on what high-density housing means, where it might be located, how it might look and how it might affect parking, infrastructure and traffic.

At the sixth and final dialogue, attendees expressed their opinions using a voting system devised by the city. This vote demonstrated that our community favors a three-story height limit on Campus Corner by a factor of 3 to 1. The city’s final report sums it up nicely: “Participants were nearly unanimous in their declaration that overly large buildings in the wrong locations are undesirable.”

Second, numerous architects have come forward to say unequivocally that a three-story height limit is right for Campus Corner. These individuals are actively engaged in development projects in the core area and know this is feasible for their industry.

One such architect described the prospect of designing new higher-density housing for Campus Corner as “exciting.” A second asked that new projects honor the Campus Corner landmarks of Whitehand Hall and McFarlin Church.

The six-story buildings (75 feet tall) preferred by our partners in the development community simply are not compatible with the architecture and “sense of place” on Campus Corner.

Third, a reasonable height limit is the conservative approach to altering Campus Corner. No one can say what the future holds. So, a three-story height limit is our best initial approach. After sufficient time has passed to gauge the effectiveness of this policy, the community can revisit the decision and increase the limit if needed.

GREG JUNGMAN

Norman City Council, Ward 4

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