An otherwise regular agenda turned lively Monday as a zoning request for a property in the 800 block of E Street NW ended in an approval by city commissioners and the threat of a lawsuit by a nearby homeowner.
Ardmore city commissioners were asked to approve a conditional use permit for a triplex, a single structure with three separate yet connected dwellings.
During a public hearing, three individuals spoke against the request citing increased traffic and the development’s impact on area property values.
The property in question is currently a vacant lot.
Community Development Director Jessica Scott told commissioners the city’s planning board had received a protest from nearby property owners, though the protest fell below the 15 percent threshold which would make it a legal protest, therefore only needing a simple majority to pass.
Homeowner Freddie Hodges asked the commission to decline the request.
“I had the first chance to buy this land from Mr. Fitch. It had been in his family for 85 years. He asked me an amount for it, but I didn’t want to pay that much,” Hodges said. “He (Fitch) didn’t come back and counter me, and he sold it to him (the current property owner Lewis Taliaferro), but if he told me what he wanted to do with it, I would have counted the dollar bills.”
Hodges said he offered Taliaferro the same price he paid for the property but Taliaferro declined.
A second protestor objected to the proposal based on concerns that a multiple-family property would have a negative impact on the value of surrounding property as well as concerns about the increase in traffic through the residential neighborhood.
Taliaferro disputed the latter claim saying developments have historically increased the overall property values.
Hodges told commissioners that if approved he would pursue the matter in district court, a sentiment he repeated after the meeting adjourned.
Prior to approving the request — 3-1 with Commissioner Sheryl Ellis being the only dissenting vote — Taliaferro expressed shock at the protest for the development.
“I wish there was something I could say that could make everyone feel better about this. I have never had anyone complain about building a new structure in their neighborhood,” Taliaferro said. “Everyone is concerned about having renters, but you’re going to have renters no matter what. There are probably already renters, I’m sure, in that neighborhood.”
Taliaferro told commissioners that he planed to develop the property regardless of their decision, having already purchased the property and securing funds for the build.
Taliaferro said the properties were long-term investments, adding that the value of the properties increase every year, stressing that in order for the properties to remain profitable, they must be maintained and in good condition.
Also on the agenda:
Commissioners approved a request of $62,000 for engineering, geotechnical, topographic and survey related actions for a roundabout at the intersection of Main Street, G Street and Broadway which would occur during the proposed third phase of the downtown Streetscape Project.
Commissioners also approved $368,703 to replace and update the city’s radio communication system. The system allows first responders, namely police and firefighters, to communicate via handheld or lapel radios while away from the vehicle. Assistant City Manager Kevin Boatright said the current system is near its ‘end life’ and the replacement would allow for better, clearer communications for officers and firefighters in the field.