By Dale Denwalt, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
The detailed drawings of how parcels of land are improved no longer will go through public meetings, after an ordinance passed Tuesday by Enid City Commission becomes law.
Called “site plans,” the engineering documents currently go through Metropolitan Area Planning Commission, which meets once each month. Enid Planning Administrator Chris Bauer, however, has said there is no need for the MAPC to vote on them. By the time a site plan reaches the panel, he said, staffers already have confirmed it complies with city regulations.
City staff canvassed other cities in the state and found others that have just an internal review.
“They already do staff review and then building permits. They don’t go to their planning commission,” Bauer said.
Local real estate developer Bob Berry opposes the changes. He said the most contentious site plan process in Enid’s history was his development of Oakwood Mall, and the outcome was better because the public had a say in the site plan process.
“What the public got out of the mall that we did not offer were some of the following,” he said, listing large setbacks, a ring road, stormwater detention, making Oakwood a four-lane street, adding two sets of stoplights and paying cash to the city for downtown revitalization.
He recalled the food court also was moved out of Vance Air Force Base’s accident potential zone.
“None of this would’ve happened without that adversarial relationship between the public and the developer,” Berry said.
The ordinance suggests the city’s lack of transparency, he said.
“The city’s job is to protect the public’s interest,” Berry said, “not us developers.”
By a vote of 4-1, the ordinance passed. Ward 3 Commissioner Ben Ezzell voted against it. Bauer said it will take effect sometime in October or November. Site plans still will be considered public record.
The commission voted to condemn a vacant property along Willow so the city could move forward with its road-widening project.
The home at 2909 W. Willow currently is under foreclosure, and the city had not yet made a deal with the owner to acquire the right of way.
“And as a result of that, there’s no one left to negotiate with. So this is the only legal avenue we have to gain rights,” City Manager Eric Benson said.
Between Cleveland and Oakwood, the city is widening Willow to five lanes. The most difficult step in the process, city spokesman Steve Kime said Wednesday, is acquiring the rights of way to move utility lines.
Commissioners have allocated funds for Enid Event Center improvements they authorized earlier this year.
The two contract change orders pay out $33,458 for a video board and lighting.
Project manager Bob Myers said there still is work to be done, and there could be one final change order for the Event Center.
In total, the Enid Event Center construction project contract after the change orders is worth $18,515,758, almost $1.1 million more than the original contract.
A 15-acre parcel of land near an Enid Woodring Regional Airport runway was purchased by the commission for $76,800. The land was bought to keep the runway area object-free and to keep a solid line of sight for the airport’s guidance instruments.
The following agenda items also were approved:
• Two-year contracts for police and firefighters that grant cost-of-living increases in pay.
• A contract with a NAPA Auto Parts to provide the city with a parts and equipment warehouse.
• As part of an incentive agreement, hiring of a construction manager for the Northstar Agri Industries canola plant.
Commissioners also agreed to use a low-cost, quick-set asphalt from Donelson Construction Co. The Modified Aggregate Quick Set Surfacing System costs about a tenth of the city’s current asphalt vendor. Public Works Deputy Director Rob Camp said a street using MAQS would last five to 10 years with normal traffic.
Using the product also will let the city add 7.9 miles to its local street repair program.