Approximately 20 residents of the Country Subdivision came to Monday night’s city council meeting with questions about the effort to zone subdivisions within the city limits. For many of the residents, the new zoning enforcement brings the rural past and urban future into conflict.


 


The Country Subdivision, located at the northern edge of the Lone Grove city limits, currently has no city zoning designation.


 


However, some of the subdivision’s residents practice small-scale farming, and bristle at what they see as unwanted regulation by the city.


Approximately 20 residents of the Country Subdivision came to Monday night’s city council meeting with questions about the effort to zone subdivisions within the city limits. For many of the residents, the new zoning enforcement brings the rural past and urban future into conflict.

 

The Country Subdivision, located at the northern edge of the Lone Grove city limits, currently has no city zoning designation.

 

However, some of the subdivision’s residents practice small-scale farming, and bristle at what they see as unwanted regulation by the city.

 

Zoning disputes, like this one, are nothing new. Communities in southern Oklahoma and beyond often deal with conflicts arising from zoning practices.

 

City Manager Marianne Elfert said zoning laws are necessary in any growing town to help foster development and prevent conflicts between neighbors.

 

“It has been a transition in Lone Grove for 20 years from rural to urban,” she said.  “You don’t accomplish that overnight without rocking the boat.”

 

Elfert said the zoning laws are being written in anticipation of further growth in the city. Residential zoning laws establish what activities are legal within certain areas, encouraging new residents to move to areas that fit their lifestyle.

 

“When people get closer together, there’s more of a potential that people will do something their neighbors wouldn’t like,” Elfert said. “You start getting into an area where code enforcement gets involved.”

Zoning laws in growing committees are often written after a substantial amount of development has taken place, to keep land values low enough to encourage further building.

 

She said the rules are there to protect people, and maintain a uniform character within communities. She gave the example of someone wanting to raise goats in a small, suburban backyard.

 

“They could become a nuisance, which would lead to complaints, which would lead to the goats being removed,” she said.

 

The proposed zoning code for the Country Subdivision is R-1, the city’s most lenient designation. R-1 allows for single-family homes, mobile homes, home occupation businesses, gardens and pet livestock. The designation does not allow livestock for commercial purposes.

 

The designations scale up with population density to a maximum level of R-5, which allows for apartment complexes and duplexes.

 

The subdivision residents don’t want any designation at all.

 

“We didn’t want to be in town where there’s all those regulations,” said Tammie Rose. “That’s why we moved out here. If we have a problem with a neighbor, we take care of it.”

 

Rose said she doesn’t practice any agriculture aside from a small seasonal garden. The only effect the zoning would have on her would be a stipulation to build a fence for her dogs.

 

Kimberly Smith and her husband, Paul, live down the street from Rose. The Smiths bale hay on their 10-acre property, one of the largest lots in the subdivision. She said much of her family’s income comes from the sale of hay.

 

“We just bought this place in November,” Smith said. “We bought it to make money off of our land.”

 

Elfert said the city council is considering gathering information from the residents of the subdivision on what agriculture they practice, in order to write language into the zoning laws to “grandfather” the activities in. However, once ownership of the properties is passed on, the new owners must conform to the laws as written.

 

Smith said that option was both good and bad.

 

“It’s good to know that we can do this, but if we ever decide to sell, who’s going to want a house with 10 acres you can’t do anything with?” she asked. “I don’t see the point in owning land to do nothing with.”

 

Despite the conflict, Elfert said the city would not go out of its way to inconvenience the subdivision’s residents.

 

“We’re too busy dealing with problems in town,” she said. “Would we go up there to single them out? No. People have lived and done what they’ve done in this town forever. It’s a transition.”