EDMOND — Covell Village property owners clapped and voiced their approval this week when city council members unanimously turned down an application that would have allowed 160 more apartments near their homes.
Homeowners said they purchased their houses near the southwest corner of Kelly Avenue and Covell Road because they were told there would only be commercial development next to their homes.
Randel Shadid, attorney for Covell & Kelly Group LLC, said the developer of the land adjacent to the neighborhood has owned the property for 10 years and no one has made an inquiry about commercial development on the 9.8-acre tract — which is just south of Uptown Grocery Co. — because it does not front onto an existing roadway.
The developer had asked the city to rezone the land from commercial to residential, which would have allowed for plans to build dozens of apartments on the property. The developer was willing to make a dozen changes to the apartment plans in hopes of appeasing the homeowners, but that didn’t work for them or city council members.
There are 141 apartments already being built to the west of the Lowe’s home improvement store near that corner. Plans for those apartments were in place before many homeowners moved to the neighborhood. The luxury apartments, once called Enclave Apartments, burned in October 2009, just two weeks before the complex was scheduled to be completed. Damages were estimated at $10 million.
Firefighters said the fire, which lasted several days, was the largest fire in the history of Edmond and the single largest financial loss.
The homeowners said they knew the rebuilt complex, now called 1201 Apartments, was going to stand near their homes in northwest Edmond.
‘It’s a bait and switch’
The possible addition of more apartments rankled residents.
“We have no problem with commercial,” said neighborhood resident James McDaniel, who was among 35 people who attended a meeting in opposition of more apartments. “We knew it was going to be commercial, not apartments. Apartment traffic will be horrible.”
There will also be traffic with commercial development, Shadid said.
“It’s a bait and switch for the homeowners,” said resident Lisa Fulture, who claimed developers knew all along there were plans for apartments.
“I dispute the bait and switch,” Shadid said. “It has been zoned commercial for 10 years and there has been no inquiries.”
Covell Village resident Mary Carver said she was concerned about parking and questioned if vehicles would be parking on the street. She said the apartments being rebuilt don’t have enough parking spaces. She also accused the developer of building too many apartments on too small a piece of property.
“We meet all city codes for the parking and we come in under code for the units,” Shadid said.
Local resident Guy Jackson questioned the city rezoning commercial property to multifamily because the city is running low on available commercial property.
“It is a mistake to take 20 percent of the commercial off the market,” Jackson said.
Councilman Nick Massey said he thought commercial property would fill in around the property, making it more accessible to passing traffic. Massey, who represents the city on the Edmond Economic Development Authority, said the authority would love to help the developer acquire commercial possibilities.
“The original planned unit development is the highest level of commercial,” Mayor Charles Lamb said. “To lose it would be difficult to replace it.”