NORMAN — Norman planners said they will use input from a series of community meetings on high-rise, high-density developments to draft a report for city council that may or may not recommend that such projects be allowed.
“We've been trying to gauge residents' comfort level with this type of development, mainly because of an increased demand for it from developers,” Planning Director Susan Connors said. “We've tried to talk about how we can absorb these higher densities, if we can.”
High-rise, high-density housing units, sometimes mixed with retail and commercial development, are becoming increasingly popular in urban areas, Connors said, but Norman's planning code currently doesn't allow for such developments.
Connors said developers have been submitting applications for multifamily developments with as many as 100 dwelling units per acre, most of them around the University of Oklahoma campus and all well above Norman's current limit of 26 units per acre. Norman's 2025 Land Use and Transportation Plan doesn't address the issue.
In a series of six public meetings that concluded Thursday, residents were given a crash course in city planning and high-density developments, including where they have been used in other cities and how they can be incorporated into urban living.
At the conclusion, residents were asked to vote on various scenarios that ranged from maintaining the status quo to incorporating medium-density housing units or choosing between mixed-use developments or high-density developments with or without restrictions.
The overwhelming majority of residents want design standards imposed on mixed-use or high-density developments, if they are allowed.
“I don't think there's any place in Norman for high-density developments,” said Tom Knotts.
Resident Jeanette Coker drew up her own survey that she passed out to participants at Thursday's meeting.
“I don't think the city is asking straightforward questions about it. I'm asking simple yes-or-no questions. Do you or do you not want these type of developments? Do you want them in your neighborhood?” Coker said.
One resident simply wrote “put them in Moore” on his questionnaire.
Connors said interest in the meetings has been high, with between 65 and 70 residents attending each session.
“People have turned out for these meetings because they are very protective of their neighborhoods,” Councilwoman Linda Lockett said. “They don't want these type of developments to change the character of their neighborhood or the city as a whole.”