The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

July 11, 2013

Permit for Roberts Ranch scuttled

By Dale Denwalt, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — A city panel denied a fire code variance requested by Roberts Ranch of Oklahoma, putting a halt to construction of a maintenance garage on their property east of town.

The Construction Board of Adjustment and Appeals confirmed Fire Marshal Ken Helms’ recommendation that the commercial building cannot be constructed because of inadequate fire protection in the area.

The lone fire hydrant near 42nd and Garriot can only pump 803 gallons per minute, and the city’s fire code stipulates that any commercial construction must be serviced by a hydrant capable of pumping almost twice that amount.

An engineering consultant representing Roberts Ranch said the issue is not a solitary one in the city.

“We’re not talking about one hydrant with one location in Enid,” said Jimmy Stallings, president of Envirotech Engineering and Consulting. “Basically, this is a moratorium on development in our community. All we’re doing is trying to give them a place to maintain their vehicles.”

Roberts Ranch is a commercial pig breeder and has a feed lot in Enid.

Helms defended his decision, saying that the discrepancy between the actual water flow from the hydrant and the established minimum requirements is too great.

If it was only 10 or 15 percent short, he might have signed off on the building permit.

“If we didn’t have that particular provision of the code, and it was up to my judgement to decide what’s appropriate and what’s not, that would be somewhat of a different issue,” Helms said. “But then it makes it very hard for me as a code official to treat it fairly.”

Myrl Mortenson, owner of Roberts Ranch, told the board that it is unfair to businesses wanting to relocate here if there isn’t enough fire protection to actually build.

“Don’t lure us in and get the hook in our mouth and let us flounder,” he said. “It’s not a very good feeling.”