The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

January 15, 2013

Approved: Rezoning, canola TIF, water line work get commission's OK

By James Neal, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Enid City Commission approved rezoning a 16-acre tract at Chestnut and Cleveland for commercial development at its meeting Tuesday night.

Commissioners also approved a Tax Increment Finance district for a proposed canola processing plant and emergency bidding procedures to replace a section of city water line.

Commercial development

Commissioners approved a development proposal to rezone 16 acres on the northwest corner of Chestnut and Cleveland from low-intensity residential to medium-intensity commercial, planned business center district.

The proposed rezoning area lies within the city’s 2025 Comprehensive Plan, which identifies the Chestnut and Cleveland intersection as a 30-acre medium intensity Community Commercial Node 2, with 7.5 developed acres on each corner of the intersection.

The proposal approved increased the commercial section on the northwest corner of the intersection from 7.5 acres to 16.09 acres for development as an office and retail space.

The area to the north of the rezoned commercial development currently is pasture, and includes a water detention area for the Rolling Acres development.

City planning administrator Chris Bauer told commissioners the city has plans to acquire 27 acres of land east of Cleveland and south of the railroad track for a new water detention site.

The proposed commercial office and retail center on the northwest corner of Cleveland and Chestnut also has its own on-site water detention area.

Several local residents spoke during a public hearing on the matter Tuesday night, voicing concerns over the development’s impact on water detention, aesthetics and the neighborhood in general.

Glen Julian urged commissioners to restrict the development to the original size specified in the comprehensive plan, and not allow expansion to 16 acres of commercial development.

“This is a residential area,” Julian said. “I just don’t want the extra commercial area in the neighborhood.”

Dale Denton, who lives across Chestnut from the proposed development, said addressing the storm water drainage and on-site detention should be a required “first order of business” in the commercial development plan.

Linda Record, who lives on Quailwood, also voiced concerns about the drainage and detention issues.

“We want to see that you follow through with the purchase of that 27 acres for the detention pond east of Cleveland,” Record said. “It is very important that we get the proper drainage in place before any development goes in, so I hope this council will get that on the fast track.”

Specifics of the project development will have to be presented in a site plan through the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission and come before the commission for approval.

TIF district

Commissioners also unanimously approved creating a TIF district to create incentives for a proposed Northstar Agri Industries canola processing plant.

The TIF district is designed to create as much as $27 million in incentives over 25 years, including up to $15 million in incentives for Northstar and compensation to the city for $12 million in infrastructure improvements to support the plant.

Under the terms of the proposal, 90 percent of the increased ad valorem taxes from the TIF district would go toward Northstar’s investment compensation, compensating the city of Enid for infrastructure improvements and interest on both counts.

All tax-receiving entities would continue to receive ad valorem revenue from the current assessed value of the 399 acres on which the plant will be built, plus 10 percent of any increase in ad valorem revenue due to the plant’s development over the next 25 years.

The canola plant is expected to be operational by March 2015, and employ 55 workers with an annual payroll of $3.75 million.

Water repairs

Commissioners voted to declare an emergency and waive competitive bidding requirements to replace 2.5 miles of 20-inch water line.

The water line, which stretches from 54th and U.S. 412 to the Koch Nitrogen plant on 78th, carries about 50 percent of the city’s water demand, and supplies Koch Nitrogen, Salt Fork Water District and the towns of Covington and Fairmont.

Robert Hitt, city of Enid director of engineering services, told commissioners the line has deteriorated over time, and now is “failing on a weekly, if not a daily basis.”

The line ruptured and required repairs 10 times in December, each time requiring crews to completely drain the line, and cut off its supply to city customers.

Hitt said each rupture and repair cost the city about $50,000, adding up to $500,000 in repairs last month alone.

He said the city already has received bids for the project, and following the normal bid notification procedures would require going back out for new bids, a process that would require an additional five weeks.

Hitt said the city has several options for replacing the line, all based on replacing the 20-inch line with a larger 24-inch line. He said lining the existing line is not a good option because the existing metal pipe is too degraded to offer structural strength for a liner.

Hitt presented three possible routes for a replacement line: follow U.S. 412 east to 78th, then south; south along Kremlin Street to Market, then east to 78th; and to parallel the existing route, which follows the railroad right-of-way to the southeast from 54th and U.S. 412 to 78th.

Hitt said following the current path would be the most direct and least expensive option, while the other two paths would provide more access to the water line for future development.

Bid prices for the project range from $2.7 million to $3.2 million.

The commissioners voted unanimously to declare an emergency and waive the competitive bidding notification procedures for the project. The commission did not award a contract in the project, though Hitt said that could happen in a special meeting as soon as next week.

In other business, commissioners awarded a contract to Henson Construction for the Cleveland Street Trailhead in the city’s master trail plan.

The project will include constructing restrooms, a picnic area and a localized walking loop and purchase of exercise equipment for the trailhead, to be partially funded by a $160,000 grant from the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation.

The balance of the project will be funded from the city’s capital improvement fund. Henson submitted the low bid for the project at $349,242, including addition of a $37,000 option for adult exercise equipment.

Commissioners Ron Janzen and Todd Ging raised concerns over the $37,000 price tag for the adult exercise equipment, described as “stretching equipment.” They suggested awarding the contract without the adult exercise equipment, which would have cut the cost to $312,242.

The commission approved the higher contract amount on a vote of 3-2, with Janzen and Ging offering the dissenting votes.

Janzen also voiced concerns on equipment costs when it came time to consider expending $277,449 from the capital improvement fund for new playground equipment at Champion Park.

Enid Assistant City Manager Joan Riley said $300,000 was budgeted for the project. Whitney Box, director of strategic and long-range planning for the city, said the park will be a “statement park,” and will “make a positive statement for the quality of life in Enid.”

Janzen said the money could be better spent split between several parks, instead of being lumped into one park.

The commission voted 4-1 to fund the $277,000 equipment purchase for Champion Park, with Janzen lodging the sole opposition vote.

Commissioners approved $66,196.90 in additional funds for the Enid Renaissance Project, including $60,000 in additional construction administration fees for Convergence Design LLC and $6,196.90 to Chickasaw Telecom for routing software for Convention Hall and the Event Center.

Enid Municipal Authority voted to increase its 2012-2013 fiscal financial plan by $276,924.32.

The additional funds would cover: $143,151 to purchase the Advanced Chiropractic space at 523 S. Independence, which lies in the planned Renaissance green space; additional costs to relocate Carter Paint and Wesley Creasey, moved to make way for Renaissance; $21,000 for six months’ rent on a portion of the parking lot at the Homeland building; $106,000 in fees to The Public Finance Law Group, PLLC for TIF counsel services for the Oakwood Mall TIF and proposed Northstar Agri Industries canola processing plant TIF.