Tuesday’s meeting of the City Council began with the unanimous passage of a heartfelt resolution honoring a local hero of historic preservation. The council then went on to ignore the pleas of residents of a historic neighborhood.
After that, a parking issue held over from the previous meeting was addressed and settled.
A long-term and beloved coach and math teacher at Millwood High School, Darwin Franklin, was declared Teacher of the Month by the Council. See our video interview below.
The first order of business today was to honor local architecture historian and advocate for preservation, Lynne Rostochil.
Rostochil is an expert in mid-century modern architecture who has worked tirelessly to catalog and preserve important buildings from that era in Oklahoma City. Rostochil was instrumental in the salvation of First Christian Church and the Donnay Building.
Steve Lackmeyer, local reporter and historic building enthusiast, was invited to address the crowd on behalf of Ms. Rostochil, who is in hospital currently.
Lackmeyer told Ward 8 Mark Stonecipher that Ms. Rostochil’s neighborhood is in his ward. Lackmeyer asked him to protect the mid-century architecture in the area. He then asked the rest of the council to not give up on the First Christian Church building or the Gold Dome. He said these are historic properties that are worth saving and that Lynne Rostochil would never give up on saving them.
The resolution, co-sponsored by the Councilmen and Councilwomen of Ward 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8, was passed unanimously. Members of Rostochil’s family attending on her behalf received a standing ovation.
A building application came on for consideration after being deferred multiple times. The proposed project is an office building to be built on the north side of NE 13th St. between Lincoln and Walnut. Neighbors of the property came to protest the building’s height.
The plans for the building provide for it to be built to a towering 70 feet, nearly twice the height of any building in the immediate area. Neighbors to the north of the development complain that the building will obstruct their view and devalue their property. The neighborhood association circulated a petition protesting the approval of the project, collecting 59 signatures from the 80 occupied homes in the area.
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Attorney David Box, representing the applicant, said that to accommodate the various requirements of building codes, the building plans don’t include any usable space on the ground floor, making necessary to build higher. He contended that the building plans are in keeping with the City’s comprehensive plan guiding urban infill.
Ward 7 Councilwoman Nikki Nice said that this neighborhood doesn’t have a historic overlay, despite residents’ past requests for one. She said that in trying to negotiate with the developer, she asked for a reduction to 50 feet, but that he refused. Box pointed out that they could build it taller than the proposed 70 feet.
Nice moved to deny the application. Ward 1 Councilman James Greiner said that he thought to deny it would result in a lawsuit, costing the city money and time. Ward 4 Councilman Todd Stone said that he would not vote to deny it.
The motion to deny failed in a 4-5 vote, with Cooper, Mayor Holt, *Hamon, and Nice voting to deny it.
Nice then moved to again defer the application. That motion failed with the same vote. At that point, a motion was made to approve the application, which passed 5-4.
Nice declared that the developer and Councilmen Greiner, McAtee, Stone, Greenwell, and Stonecipher had just shown incredible disrespect to the people of Ward 7.
It seems that the “sandbox rule” no longer exists in the City Council.
Deferred from two weeks ago, a request to create six parallel parking spots on NW 11th St. between Walker and Dewey returned for consideration.
Hamon, of Ward 6, had previously moved to deny the application. Instead, the Suburban Councilmen voting bloc of Greiner, Stone, McAtee, Greenwell, and Stonecipher defeated her motion and voted to defer it in order to talk to developers and business owners.
Hamon’s protest was based largely on the history of parallel parking between the streetcar tracks and curb. When a motor vehicle isn’t fully within the parking spot a streetcar must stop until the blockage is cleared. During that time, all streetcar services stop system-wide.
Stonecipher, who previously made the motion to defer, apologized for having deferred the item at all. Since the last meeting, he talked with Jason Ferbrache and toured the area in question. Ferbrache provided stats for blockages, saying that currently, the system experiences 62 blockages per month and that blockages typically take 12 to 20 minutes to be resolved.
Ultimately, in spite of a plea from a property owner, the council unanimously voted to deny the application.
*Disclosure: This reporter is the husband of Ward 6 Councilwoman JoBeth Hamon.
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