NORMAN — Norman City Council members late Tuesday approved a plan to use a former dairy and residence at 1515 W. Main Street as a private elementary school.
Just before midnight, the council voted 8 to 1 to rezone the property for a private “mixed elementary” school. The meeting was long and the debate was tense at times.
Voting yes were Mayor Cindy Rosenthal and Council Members Greg Heiple, Lynne Miller, Tom Kovach, Greg Jungman, James Griffith, Stephen Holman and Robert Castleberry. The lone opponent was Chad Williams who expressed concern about traffic congestion.
Rose Rock School plans to use the property for up to 59 elementary school students. Neighbors had fought the school’s plan for nearly two years. Their complaints were mostly on Main Street traffic in front of the former dairy that has been a single-family residence for many years.
The school has been turned down before but has revised its numbers and made other concessions to neighbors. Debate lasted nearly three hours Tuesday. Fifty one percent of the neighbors had protested the application.
“The problem before you is the applicant made a real estate mistake,” said Sean Rieger, an attorney representing some neighbors opposed to the project.
He said the applicant paid $820,000 for the property with the intent of making it a school without obtaining proper zoning. Rieger said his clients who oppose the proposal had met with the school’s backers in hopes of making some concessions on traffic, fencing and other issues.
Attorney Blaine Nice, representing the school, said he didn’t think anyone saw the thunderstorm that came from the school’s plans.
“Is it perfect? No,” Nice said... “But it’s a great use of this historic property.”
Dee Fink, a neighbor of the school’s proposed site, said he was first opposed to the project but that he now supported it after they reduced the number of students.