The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

May 22, 2013

Protest signs removed for city code violation

By Cass Rains, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Residents of the neighborhood around Lions Park awoke Wednesday morning to find signs from a meeting the night before were missing.

The group met Tuesday evening to discuss its opposition to a plan to build new fire station on the site of the park on West Maine. Some neighbors made signs that were posted around the park.

Signs left on the northwest corner of the park, on the backstop of the park’s baseball field and along the edges were removed by 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Steve Kime, city of Enid public relations director, confirmed about eight signs were removed from the park Wednesday morning by the Code Department, because they did not meet city ordinance.

“These signs fall under the definition of a temporary sign. Some temporary signs require a temporary sign permit and some do not,” he said. “However, all temporary signs require that they be placed on property only in locations allowed by ordinance.”

Kime cites two sections of city ordinance that ban signs from being placed on publicly owned land.

“These signs were placed on publicly owned land and some of them were placed on an easement,” Kime said. “Therefore, the signs were in violation of the above sections of the ordinance and they were removed.”

Neighbors at the meeting Tuesday evening discussed the options available to them to oppose the plan to build a fire station where the park now lies.

Court documents filed May 10 in Garfield County District Court ask the court to vacate the land plan for the nearly half-acre park.

Paula Nightengale, who lives at Maine and Arthur across the park, said she and her neighbors support Enid Fire Department and the city of Enid, but they disagree with them on this decision.

“This is not even in the top five choices to put a fire station,” she said, referring to the park. “There are many other top choices to put a fire station.”

Nightengale said she would oppose plans to place the station in another neighborhood.

“We just want them to rethink this,” she said. “We’re going to find out how many people agree with us and we will be making that information available to the people who have to make this decision.”

Another neighbor, Judy Watson, said she and several others met after the signs were removed. She said she was unaware they’d violated city ordinance.

“We don’t want to do anything against the code or against the city,” she said. “We discussed getting some more materials and putting them (signs) in our yard.”

At the meeting Tuesday, petitions for residents to sign and for other city residents to sign were circulated.

Court documents sent to all residents within 300 feet of the park state an opposition must be presented five days prior to a July 3 court date.

The neighbors plan to meet again at 6:30 p.m. May 28 at Lions Park. A copy of the petition for people to sign will be available at Park Avenue Thrift, 507 S. Grand.

The proposed new station would replace the current No. 4 station, 2205 W. Garriott, which was built in 1960.

Fire Chief Joe Jackson previously said in addition to replacing station No. 4, the new building will help to reduce coverage overlap. He said a location was wanted that was further west, but there was not much land available in the desired area.

Jackson said other properties were examined, but the land had problems such as drainage, or the owners being unwilling to sell.

He said the city examined other properties in northwest Enid.

“There’s drainage problems on some of the land; then the land that I was really interested in, they didn’t want to sell it,” Jackson said.