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December 10, 2013

Sooner Mobile Home Park owner wants to redevelop park as mixed-use PUD

NORMAN — The Norman City Council will consider zoning changes for a mobile home park in southeast Norman on Tuesday.

Residents in the park will receive financial incentives to help with relocation if the zoning is approved, but either way, the mobile home park will close, according to the developer.

Sooner Mobile Home Park at 2601 S. Classen Blvd. has existed since 1961, prior to the area being annexed into city limits. The park is home to 85 mobile homes and 50 RVs that are long-term RVs treated as residences.

Now, the property owner wants to redevelop the trailer park as a mixed-use Planned Unit Development with student housing and commercial lots.

Attorney Hal Ezzel, representing the applicant before the planning commission on Nov. 14, said the mobile home park will shut down either way, but the funding will not be available to pay residents to relocate without the zoning change.

In the past, attempts to rezone this mobile home park were controversial because of protests from mobile home residents being displaced. In this proposal, the developer negotiated with other mobile home parks in the area in a cost-share offer that allows them to pay residents for the expense of the move and gives them two months free rent.

Ezzel said without the zoning approval, the money will not be available from his client to fund those incentives. He said 22 mobile homes already have relocated. As part of the deal, residents signed an agreement not to protest the rezoning.

“I think it speaks highly of the ownership group and their sense of taking care of those folks,” Ezzel told the planning commission.

At least one city council member has said the arrangement feels a bit like emotional blackmail — many of the mobile home residents say they live on the edge of the poverty and losing their homes without this assistance could send them into homelessness.

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