On March 7, a local church will go in front of the Ardmore’s city planning commission requesting a conditional use permit for their church in downtown Ardmore. While the decision to ultimately approve or deny the request rests on the city commission, the planning commission is a critical pathway for citizens to make their opinions known.
“First Christian Church has bought the (former) Gauntlet Fitness building and they want to go in there,” Community Development Director Jessica Scott said. “In order to do that they need to get a conditional use permit. The way that our code is written, a church can only go into CD zoning (Downtown Commercial Zoning) with a conditional use permit.”
Scott said this will be the second time the church has gone before the planning commission. They also spoke in November before the planning commission recommended the request be denied. However, the church withdrew the application before it was sent to the city commission.
“With any rezoning or conditional use permit, we’re required by law to post a sign, post it in the newspaper, and we have to send out letters to all of the property owners within 300-feet,” Scott said.
The letter outlines what the person making the request wants to do with the property, then the nearby property owners have a certain amount of time to reply with any questions or comments and officially register a letter saying they either approve or disapprove the request. In the case of the church, the deadline is this Friday.
Scott said that if 50 percent of the property owners within a 300-foot area or 50 percent of property owners in adjacent properties are against the proposal, it becomes a legal protest.
“If there is a legal protest, it takes a super majority vote of the city commission to pass,” Scott said. “So they would have to have four votes to pass instead of three.”
Scott said the last attempt there were not enough letters sent to make it a legal protest. She said that many of the protestors were concerned that without a merchant or restaurant in the building, it would become an empty storefront six days a week. She also noted, however, that some businesses were in support of the request.
Scott said all letters received will go to both the planning commission and the city commission before they vote. She also said that a public hearing will take place during the planning commission and the city commission meeting so that the public will be able to speak for or against the proposal.