Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

February 4, 2014

Tornado victims scorn effort to build multi-family apartments

By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript

MOORE — Residents filled Moore City Hall on Monday night to protest a zoning request that would allow apartments to be built next to a single-family neighborhood that had been devastated by the May 20 tornado.

The applicant, Gene Methvin through BAM Investments, asked to amend the Moore Vision 20/20 plan from light/medium commercial to high-density residential to put a multi-family residential project on approximately nine acres south of Southeast Fourth Street and west of Eastern Avenue, according to city staff reports.

Methvin had asked for a postponement until Feb. 18 and was not present at the meeting Monday, leaving the city council unsure of how best to proceed.

Protestors agreed that the city should postpone the vote rather than give the applicant grounds for legal recourse, but they asked the city council to hear their concerns.

Methvin had notified area homeowners that he would meet with them Feb. 10 to try to resolve conflicts. Many of the protestors said they are still displaced because of the tornado, and they have primarily learned about this zoning request through word of mouth.

“We had a sense of home and then we lost our place to the tornado,” said Mark Sherman, one of several residents who spoke against the zoning change.

“I’m trying to be calm,” Sherman said, “but I’m very emotional about it. We spent thousands to rebuild our home in the area. I’m begging you to please stop it (the apartment).”

Residents voiced concerns about traffic, water pressure and drainage. Neighbors also said because the tornado had taken out so many homes, it was hard to mount a protest.

Most of those who spoke before the city council said they would come back again and again, if necessary. They said they would support the city waiting, if it meant the city would be able to deny the zoning request without giving the applicant legal grounds for appeal.

Community Development Director Elizabeth Jones reported that the north portion of the property was rezoned to C-3 with a Permissive Use for a mini-storage in 2011. The south portion of the property was zoned C-2 and platted as the Eastridge Commercial Park in 1986. Both tracts are vacant.

According to city staff notes, the applicant wants to build an apartment complex with 182 units, resulting in 20 dwelling units per acre. Amenities included in the proposed PUD include a clubhouse with pool, onsite garages and three acres of open space with 95 trees and 100 shrubs.

A transitional buffer of two-story garage units would protect single-family homes from view in the existing neighborhood to the west. Also 27 trees along the west property line would serve as a sight and noise buffer.

The application uses a 60 percent minimum bricking requirement for primary buildings, with most of that bricking on the first floor. The clubhouse appears to contain fewer masonry components, and staff “has great concern over the reduction of masonry components to the long-term aesthetic viability and maintenance of the project,” according to staff reports.

The Moore Planning Commission recommended denial of the request. The council voted unanimously to table the issue.

Residents said they would not show up Feb. 10 to meet with the developer. They do not want the apartments and don’t feel the developer has anything to say that could change their minds.