ENID, Okla. —
Paul Smith had only started the foundation of a new home by the time he had to stop.
He expects the neighbors will sue him because of plans to rent the new home to his son and two other people.
Smith’s project is located on 11.07 acres north of Enid on land that officially became his only this week. For the past two years, though, Smith has considered the land his while making payments to deed-holder Jon Carter.
Neighbors who live in the rural community at 16th and Centennial are trying to prevent the “commercial use” of renting a home; earlier this month, they sued Carter, whose name remains on the property in county documents.
Smith laughed at the idea that the house will be a business.
“I’ll rent it out to my son, and he’ll have two roommates. That’s not a commercial venture,” Smith said Wednesday.
Weston Smith wouldn’t be a typical tenant, anyway.
The 29-year-old has severe developmental disabilities and is a client of the state-run Northern Oklahoma Resource Center of Enid. He requires ’round-the-clock care from nursing staff.
He’s also one of many who must, through their parents and guardians, find a new place to live.
NORCE is approaching a shut-down in 2015, which has forced folks like Paul Smith to plan ahead. The home is meant for Weston and two other NORCE clients.
In a memo preceding the lawsuit obtained by the Enid News & Eagle, the six neighbors make several claims that Smith refutes.
Among those accusations are that Carter planned to split the 11 acres into two parts, creating a 3-acre parcel for the group’s home. Smith said he doesn’t plan on splitting the property.
“I don’t know where they came up with that,” he said.
The actual lawsuit further claims because the land is zoned for agriculture use, Smith cannot build a home where the landowner, himself, does not reside. He works and has a home in Edmond, but also maintains a residence in Enid.
Smith did say he plans on renting the home out. Weston and the two other developmentally disabled people would reside together at the home and have 24-hour professional nursing care.
“It’s not like we’re moving crackheads in,” Smith said.
The lawsuit also claims the landowner will charge the occupants $1,000 per month to live there. Smith said he hasn’t researched the definite figures, but estimates that each of the NORCE clients will receive about $700 from Social Security each month, far short of what the plaintiffs allege he would be charging them.
“It’s the biggest kangaroo mess I’ve ever seen in my life,” Smith said, alluding to his theory that the push-back could be because of his son’s health status.
“I asked the attorney (for the neighbors), is this because I have a mentally retarded son? ‘No, it has nothing to do with that.’ Yet, he wants to talk to the case worker and case manager to know what we’re doing,” Smith said.
Mark Stonecipher, attorney for the plaintiffs, did not return a phone call Wednesday. Carter has not filed a response to the lawsuit, and he declined to comment. Smith said he has not yet secured an attorney.