A planned project to build upscale townhouses moved another step toward becoming a reality following an unanimous vote on a rezoning request by the planning commission during its meeting Thursday.

The property, which is located 320 feet south of Veterans Boulevard on the west side of Mt. Washington Road, will be rezoned from multifamily medium density to multifamily high density.

Michael Murray spoke on behalf of the project and said a maximum of 200 townhouses could be built on the property. There are plans for a Phase One, which will consist of 40 to 50 townhouses. Each unit would be 978 square feet, and is expected to rent for $900 to $1,200, depending on market demand and whether all utilities are paid.

Nick Diaz, director of development services for the city of Ardmore, said staff recommended approval. He noted there was a protest, but it failed to receive enough signatures, so fell short of the criteria.

Murray said the current zoning allowed for duplexes and triplexes, but it was more cost-effective to build townhouses in groups larger than three units. He said they would not be low-income, and would help support the University Center of Southern Oklahoma as well as the community and schools.

There will be no on-site facilities, and he wanted there to be a neighborhood feel rather than an apartment feel.

“It is our intention to manage the properties, the units and the landscaping,” Murray said, speaking also on behalf of his wife. “It is our intent to make a living off the cash flow of the properties. He addressed entrance concerns, noting the entrance would be off of Mt. Washington Road. Should the property be approved, he expects it to be finished by January or February, and would do background checks on renters.

Ed Harwood spoke on behalf of the opposition, introducing himself as a former captain with the police department. He said he had a problem with the rezoning due to past experiences. He provided the examples of Ashbrooke Place Apartments and Huntington Falls Apartments, which he said look nice, but invited a lot of crime. In particular, he talked about an incident in which he said a skinhead killed someone and walked through the park and started shooting at cars.

“He shot a lot of cars,” Harwood said.

Harwood also said he did not believe the townhouses would be filled because of the price, and maintained a concern about violence from drug dealers who could afford the townhouses.

“Drug dealers can afford $900 to $1,200,” he said.

Harwood also said he didn’t want to have to build a cinder block wall or string razor wire to keep his home safe. He also said he did not want to have to shoot someone.

“I don’t want bullets flying at my house,” he said.

Harwood was asked about crime on both Cottonwood and Locust streets, which are located by the property. The question brought several comments from those in attendance, including one person telling Harwood, “One time there was a drug house next to you, and you didn’t know it.”

With board approval, the request will go to the city commission for final approval.

The planning board also approved a rezoning request and conditional-use permit request from Fox Engineering on behalf of Craig Gerken, which will allow for medical records storage. The building will be similar to Dr. Gerken’s office, and will allow for rental of units, but they will be limited to medical records.

The board also approved a request from Dr. Steven Mills on behalf of the University Center of Southern Oklahoma for a final plat on a lot of 103.2 acres off of Mt. Washington Road. The lot will be used for a new building. Diaz said the next step would be to rezone the property. All items will require approval by the city commission.