By Dale Denwalt, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
An attorney representing four families trying to stop construction on a rent house has responded to comments from the builder.
Last week, Edmond resident Paul Smith confirmed he was building a home along 16th south of Centennial, on land he’d just acquired. The house, he said, would be for his son, Weston, a 29-year-old resident of Northern Oklahoma Resource Center of Enid, who requires 24-hour nursing care. Weston would live in the house with two others from the NORCE facility, which will close in 2015.
Smith said the lawsuit was filed because of rumors about what he was building and how much he would charge his son and the others. In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs state the home will be an ineligible commercial enterprise, because Smith will be charging rent.
Smith is not the target of the lawsuit, but the previous owner is. At the time it was filed, Jon Carter was the registered landholder, so he is named as the defendant. Smith suspects he could be included in the lawsuit if an agreement isn’t reached.
The parties will meet Friday, Smith said.
“I want to give them a fair chance to see what they want to do,” he said.
Mark Stonecipher is the attorney representing Bogert Farms LLC, Jon and Emily Hulsey, Dave and Madelyn Keck and Eddie Bowen. All have property in the area surrounding Smith’s property.
“Unfortunately, Mr. Carter’s neighbors have received conflicting information about possible commercial development plans for the agricultural property in question,” Stonecipher said in an emailed response. “The plaintiffs believed they had no alternative but to pursue legal action to ensure that the property owner complies with the applicable land use and zoning regulations.”
He said the neighbors have been given various stories as to exactly what Smith plans to do.
“We have been told that Mr. Smith intends to build two facilities with multiple unrelated tenants residing at the facilities,” Stonecipher said. “The neighbors are not against Mr. Smith providing a residence for his family, but they are opposed to a commercial enterprise that is not agricultural. They simply want to ensure that any use of the property remains agricultural and complies with the appropriate zoning regulations and statutes.”
Smith said he never intended to build more than one home.
“The rumor is I’m going to receive a thousand dollars for clients and I’m going to build two houses and all that stuff. It’s going to be all I can do just to build one house out there. I’m basically building it out of my dang pocket,” he said.
He would only charge rent based on what his own payments are for any loan he gets to build the house.
“I’m selling my motorcycles, everything I can come up with to build this house, basically so they don’t have to starve to death out there; so they have money to do things and live a halfway comfortable life,” Smith said.