Outside help will bring some much-needed updates to Ardmore’s unified development code. 

The mayor and board of commissioners voted to approve a $180,338 contract with Houseal Lavigne Associates, the same consulting firm that developed the city’s comprehensive plan earlier this year. 

Director of Development Services Jessica Scott said no major changes to the unified development code have been made since1998. 

“The Unified Development Code is a section of our ordinances that deals with people’s property,” Scott said. “It deals with animals, mowing, how big the house can be, how big the lot can be, where you can build, if you can have chickens, all of those things that make up a community.”

Scott said the city has made small updates as needed along the way. For example, the original code had no mention of electric signs, which the city had to work around. 

“All this time we’ve always made adjustments to zoning or small changes to ordinances, just because Ardmore is growing,” Scott said. “A change here and a change there is great to keep going, but we’re at the point now where we need to throw the book out and start all over.”

Last year, Houseal Lavigne helped the city write its comprehensive plan, which was adopted on July 1, 2017. Scott said the process took roughly 10 months from start to finish.

“They did community meetings, they met with the principals, they drove every street in Ardmore and they made this comprehensive plan,” Scott said. “It’s like the future of Ardmore. It’s what we want Ardmore to be in 10 years.”

The updated comprehensive plan was written with new growth and commercial development in areas that weren’t originally foreseen, like the businesses on 12th Street. The firm also held open forums to explain the plan to citizens and listen to feedback.  

“We really wanted them because they know our town,” Scott said. “The plan is a roadmap and the ordinances are going to help us get there.”

Scott said in many cases, Ardmore has simply outgrown the old ordinances and codes over the decades. 

“The interstate is not a new thing, but it really changed Ardmore because we’re right between Dallas and Oklahoma City,” Scott said. “When they originally wrote that, they didn’t anticipate as much growth as we’ve had.”