The Edmond Sun

February 14, 2013

Council corrects itself on rezoning issue

James Coburn
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — A rezoning effort by Hansen Properties was continued for a second time by the City Council 5-0 this week in a way that Mayor Charles Lamb said he has never witnessed in his 16 years on the council.

The information on the item provided to the council was not properly documented, said Elizabeth Waner, city councilwoman.

Council members voted in January to continue a rezoning effort by Hansen Properties for duplexes and offices on Oak Ridge Drive. This proposed development is north of Second Street about one-third of a mile west of Interstate 35.

Waner was part of the 4-0 January vote to continue the item, she said, regarding amending the Edmond Plan from a projected office use to planned unit development. Council members first voted 2-2 on the Edmond Plan amendment with one councilmember absent that night. A tie vote does not allow the amendment to move forward. The council did not actually vote on the second item, a rezoning request.

Waner said she thought the January vote only meant to continue the rezoning of restricted commercial to planned unit development. This action would allow restricted commercial and duplexes to be developed on the west side of Oak Ridge Drive, north of Second Street.

“My confusion stemmed from the fact that I have never been aware that we have actually continued an item that has been duly heard and voted on,” Waner said. “This brings me to my concern. I believe that we as a council are establishing a very poor precedent for ourselves, because we are going to be re-hearing an issue that we already voted on.”

Waner said she was concerned that the council suggested a continuation of both items in January, including one that had been voted on and the item waiting to be heard.

“I think it’s important to note again that the applicant did not request a continuance and that the council initiated it,” Waner said.

Waner said the council needs to make an effort to be completely transparent. There was no mention in the council’s memo of a previous discussion of the item with public participation that led to a 2-2 vote.

The information is listed in the minutes but the memo is not intuitive to lead anybody to read the minutes, Waner said. There also is no mention in the council’s packet to address how much Oak Ridge Drive would be widened, Waner said.

“What came in an email would have, but I could not tell where that widening stopped,” Waner said.

City Attorney Steve Murdock said city ordinances do not address what to do when the council has a 2-2 vote with a planning amendment as it would with a zoning issue. He had previously suggested to either make another motion or to continue the item until there is a full council present to hear it.

“Historically as I’ve been here for many years, when items were 2-2 the applicant has been given the opportunity to continue the item until there is a full council,” Murdock said.

Murdock said the council could redirect the proposed plan amendment and rezoning to a future council meeting if it is uncomfortable about the procedure that has followed for the item.

“It doesn’t benefit us to try to cram something down a process if there is any question about it,” said Todd McKinnis, an attorney representing the developer.

McKinnis said his party would have asked for a continuance if asked based on the lack of affirmation for the plan amendment. Hansen Properties has done everything requested by the city in providing detailed information in presenting its case, McKinnis said.

“We’ve been through this process exactly how you asked us to,” McKinnis said.

McKinnis made it clear he will continue any future item as soon as a plan amendment is not approved or not affirmed.

“What is the benefit to the City of Edmond, the citizens or the developer to come back and do this whole exercise again?” McKinnis said.

Waner answered that the City Council must be mindful of its actions. City records need to reflect what the council has done, she added.

“I’m really trying to say I think it’s a council issue that gives me concern,” Waner said.

Murdock and Lamb said a note could be added to the minutes this week addressing Waner’s objections to how the minutes were recorded.

“… In all the time I’ve sat here, I never remember voting on something and continuing it,” Waner said.

Concerns about traffic on Oak Ridge, renting duplexes, lacking green belt protection and fears of decreasing property values brought residents from surrounding neighborhoods to protest the item.

To the north of this PUD is the Windsong addition and to the west of the property is an undeveloped flood plain. The Ridge Pointe subdivision is to the east of the tract.

The proposed zoning is a mixed use planned unit development on 4.38 acres of land. One of the tracts is already zoned for restricted retail commercial. It borders the front on Second Street and will be left alone for developing a 24,000-square-foot, brick veneer retail center, said Bob Schiermeyer, city planner.

The adjoining piece of land is proposed for the duplexes. Ten duplex lots totaling 20 dwelling units are proposed for a typical lot size of 85 feet by 120 feet.

Murdock recommended that city staff give a re-notice to all property owners that the council will reconsider the item again March 11. The applicant will not be charged for a re-mailing of the notice, Lamb said.

Mayor Lamb is up for re-election this year. He will face challenger Richard Prawdzienski on April 2.