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February 26, 2014

Council changes Sooner land use for future grocery store

EDMOND — Plans to build a grocery store on the northwest corner of Sooner Road and Covell Road met little resistance this week by the Edmond City Council.

The council approved request by Fairfax Joint Ventures LLC for a single family planned unit development and a general commercial PUD to become a commercial PUD on a 36.75-acre parcel, said Charles Lamb, mayor. The vote was 4-1 with Councilwoman Elizabeth Waner voting against the item.

“As Fairfax has developed as the golf course, this obviously would not have been anticipated for commercial,” said Bob Schiermeyer, city planner. The 18th hole of the golf course would be relocated to the north of the subject property, Schiermeyer said.

“I think as a master plan amendment, it’s premature in time and place,” Waner said.

A grocery store site larger than 100,000 square feet would be constructed north of two or three pad sites to be located along Covell. A west-side office project from the intersection along Covell would connect onto Fairfax Boulevard, to extend into the addition before a Sooner Road exit, Schiermeyer said.

The idea is for the road to be congruent to access to a road exiting on the west side of the hotel conference center that is being developed off the northwest corner of Interstate 35 and Covell, said Steve Manek, city engineer.

“Once we get to the final design of that pond and those roads coming and going, we’ll have a good idea of where they line up on Sooner as well,” Manek said.

Attorney Todd McKinnis, in representing Fairfax Joint Ventures, said the developer has been working with the city to align the egress and ingress onto Sooner Road. The egress and ingress onto Sooner from the hotel and conference center is a difficult issue, he said.

The future phases of retail development on the $25.5 million Hilton Garden Hotel and conference center site is less defined than the hotel and conference center itself, McKinnis said. No one was thinking about the road when they decided to move the hotel and conference center farther west on the property, he said.

“We are doing our best to align to the entrance of the grocery store on the south side,” McKinnis said. “That’s most likely closest to align to the hotel-conference center road. So we will do everything we can, and I think we’ll probably have to make sure that’s a lighted intersection that gets you across to the east, to that north entrance of the hotel/conference center site.”

Additionally, preliminary estimates have more than 200,000 cubic yards of dirt on the grocery store and office pad sites, McKinnis said. Efforts are being coordinated to let the City of Edmond utilize the dirt for future road alignment and intersection improvements at Sooner and Covell, McKinnis said.

The widening of Sooner Road from the Covell intersection north to the bridge is estimated at $1.3 million, according to the city.

“We greatly appreciate the City of Edmond stepping out for the over-match of the Sooner and Covell intersection,” McKinnis said. “… The user we’re talking about right here estimates they are a $50 million a year store, Day One.”

 McKinnis estimates the grocery store will bring an annual $1.8 million of sales tax revenue to the city.

“I can tell you emphatically that if the intersection was not going to be done, they were not going to come to this location,” McKinnis said.

All commercial restricted uses would be allowed in the PUD such as office, overnight accommodation, restaurant and retail sales and services, McKinnis said. Schiermeyer said this could include fast food. All general commercial uses have been eliminated, such as indoor recreational centers, a movie theater, roller skating and a bowling alley, he said.

No restrictions would be placed on business hours, McKinnis said in answering a question by Councilwoman Elizabeth Waner. About 7-8 acres will be north of Fairfax Boulevard, he added.

The PUD calls for landscaping to exceed more than 10 percent of the property. Waner asked McKinnis to define how much landscaping will exceed the 10 percent minimum the city requires by ordinance.

“We’re working with somewhat arbitrary numbers today as we’re working with future development,” McKinnis said.

Waner said she is concerned about a plan amendment going from 8 acres on the corner of a general commercial PUD to 36.75 acres.

“I think it speaks to why we need to start reviewing the update to the master plan …,” Waner said. “I don’t know what’s going to be north of Fairfax Boulevard and that gives me some concern. And, I don’t know what some of those other uses are ongoing to be.”

McKinnis repeated the buffer is an acreage of a golf course. Schiermeyer has pointed out there is a lack of existing space for commercial development in Edmond. A uniquely positioned property is available to offset the dwindling commercial spots in an area with little impact to homes, he said.

“I hear what you say, and I think you’ve been a great supporter in the consistency of the plan, but I think this is a rare exception,” McKinnis said.

Lamb said the city has invested millions in the intersection of I-35 and Covell Road. The PUD is an appropriate retail activity for the area, he said.

“I see it as an appropriate plan of change and would argue the public hearing process we use every time we do an amendment is focused on amendment of plan and the comparison of change,” Lamb said.

jcoburn@edmondsun.com | 341-2121

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