By Dale Denwalt, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
The saga of a man hoping to build a home for his developmentally disabled son continues with Paul Smith rejecting a compromise from the neighbors who are suing him.
In a letter sent to Smith, the attorney for the neighbors near 16th and Centennial said that the lawsuit will be withdrawn if he agrees that only his son, and not other residents from Northern Oklahoma Resource Center of Enid, is allowed to live in a house he plans to build.
The letter alleges that if Smith rents the home to other NORCE residents aside from his son Weston, the house then becomes a “residential care home” requiring him to obtain a license from the Oklahoma State Board of Health. Attorney Mark Stonecipher also says that the property’s zoning precludes the operation of a commercial enterprise.
Stonecipher represents Bogert Farms LLC, Jon and Emily Hulsey, Dave and Madelyn Keck and Eddie Bowen. He was not available for comment Tuesday. The lawsuit originally was filed against the previous owner of the property but has since been amended to only include Smith and his wife, Gail.
Smith contends that he only wishes to let his son live in the house and be joined by two other NORCE residents who will need a place to live when the facility shuts down in 2015. They will all pay rent, he said.
“The only thing those guys have to live on is their Social Security. They have to pay rent. They have to buy clothes. They have to buy their food,” Smith said Tuesday. “The reason they put three of them in a house is so all three of them can pay approximately $200 a month in rent.”
NORCE is scheduled to shut down in August 2015. So far, there are about 50 residents left there, and many already have found homes in the community.
Parents and Guardians Association spokesman Marcellius Bell said that he hasn’t heard of any other issues with residents and their families finding a place for them to live.
“It’s the only one,” he said.
Debbie Moneypenny with the local Department of Human Services office for those with developmental disabilities said that her agency is not involved with the lawsuit.
“That isn’t something that DHS has any involvement in whatsoever. Whenever he does get his home built, of course we’ll be providing support for his son and the roommates, but that’s our only involvement,” she said.
Moneypenny also said that many developmentally-disabled people wind up with two to four in a home.
“That’s so they can share supports and so they’re not isolated,” she said.
There are, however, those who just live in their family homes.
Smith has sent a letter back to Stonecipher rejecting the compromise. He said the plaintiffs can make an offer on the land if they continue to oppose the home, and he reiterated his belief that the house will be rented well within legal boundaries.
Next, though, he expects that the case could go to the courtroom.
“I said, ‘Let’s just get it before the judge,’” Smith said. “It’ll all work out in the rain sooner or later.”