NORMAN — A proposed ordinance that would create a high-density zoning district needs more work, some residents say.
The ordinance is not specific enough in its definitions of collector and arterial streets, making residents uneasy about where high-rise buildings would be allowed, resident Steve Davis said.
Cindy Rogers said the ordinance does not adequately address neighborhood compatibility issues.
The wording of the ordinance “discourages” high-density developments in some areas, Rogers said, “but that's not forbidding it. Why don't we just prohibit it in those areas, instead of discouraging it?”
Rogers said the ordinance requires high-density developments to be compatible with neighboring properties, “but who defines compatibility? It's too vague.”
Residents discussed the proposed ordinance Tuesday during a public hearing. The ordinance will be discussed again in a joint study session of the planning commission and city council at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at city hall, 201 W Gray St.
If adopted, the ordinance would create three high-density categories: HDR-1, HDR-2 and HDR-3.
In HDR-1, buildings are limited to three stories or 45 feet in height and could only be located on collector or arterial streets.
HDR-2 allows four-story buildings or buildings no higher than 75 feet. They must be located on an arterial street or on a collector street that is within 700 feet of an arterial street. HDR-3 has no height limitations but must be built on an arterial street.
Planning Director Susan Connors said collector streets are those that “collect” traffic from local neighborhoods. Arterial streets are considered major thoroughfares.
The ordinance specifies architectural standards for the district, as well as landscape and open space requirements. HDR-2 and HDR-3 would be required to have parking garages.
Connors said a committee has been working on the ordinance for several months. A series of public meetings was held last summer so residents could express how they feel about high-density districts and what restrictions or requirements they would want in an ordinance.
Resident Cheryl Clayton said she thought the public consensus was to specify in the ordinance “protected areas” such as Campus Corner and downtown, where high-density developments would not be appropriate.
Connors said committee members chose to do a three-tier category system instead.
Developers are increasingly proposing high-density developments, which generally are high-rise apartments. Some of them are “mixed-use” projects, with a ground level of retail shops and businesses.
The city currently has no guidelines or specified standards for such developments, Connors said.