Norman City Council rejects high-density housing proposal

Norman City Council members have voted against creating a special planning district to accommodate a developer's plans for a high-rise apartment building near Campus Corner.
by Jane Glenn Cannon Modified: October 24, 2012 at 11:49 pm •  Published: October 25, 2012
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— City council members say they are not ready to approve a Kansas developer's plans to build a high-rise, student-oriented apartment building near Campus Corner.

The council voted unanimously Tuesday to reject a request from Chris Elsey, of Elsey Partners of Manhattan, Kan., to create a special planning district for a block of land between Boyd and McCullough streets from Monnett Avenue to the Boyd Street railroad tracks.

Elsey said the location is ideal for a high-density housing project that would promote “walkability” to the Campus Corner retail district and the University of Oklahoma campus.

He wants to construct a six-story, 75-foot building with 250 two-bedroom apartments on five levels, with an interior parking garage on the ground level. Conceivably, the building could house more than 500 people.

Norman's zoning ordinances do not allow for such a development, limiting housing density to 26 dwelling units per acre, Planning Director Susan Connors said. Elsey's project calls for upward of 100 dwelling units per acre.

City planners are working on setting policies for that type of project, because developers increasingly are bringing such proposals to them, Connors said.

But the policies are not ready yet, said Councilman Greg Jungman, “and we've committed to our residents that we would develop guidelines. We owe it to them to complete that commitment before approving any request for high-density developments.”

Creating a special planning district would be the only way under current zoning ordinances to accommodate what Elsey wants to do, Connors said.

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by Jane Glenn Cannon
Senior Reporter
A native of Oklahoma, Jane Glenn Cannon is an award-winning reporter who has covered everything from crime, courts and government to entertainment and features. She wrote a popular personal column for many years. She is a former associate writer...
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