Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Stillwater, Oklahoma, City Council turns down same student-apartment development group that recently was turned down in Fayetteville

Published: October 13, 2009 04:12 pm in the Stillwater NewsPress
Council says no to Campus Crest
Monique Headley
Stillwater City Council denied the request of Campus Crest developers to build local luxury student housing in a four-to-one vote Monday.
Mayor Nathan Bates cast the only vote in favor of Campus Crest.
Councilors determined the proposed site to be incompatible with the Stillwater comprehensive plan. The planned development of multifamily commercial property was considered excessively dense for the single-family residential area.
Developers said the future may yield another construction bid elsewhere in the city.
Councilors said if certain issues were resolved or alternate location selected, a subsequent Campus Crest request could prove successful.
Campus Crest had asked to rezone property located at 717 E. Hall of Fame Ave. and 1000, 1118, 1120 and 1202 E. Virginia Ave. The company planned to build a clubhouse and eight multifamily, four-story dwellings that would be 50 feet tall.
The hearing room overflowed with about 90 people for and against the planned unit development called The Grove.
Residents said that, if approved, the development would plunge property values, not allow sufficient transition space between the structures and increase traffic and the potential for crime.
Several strongly suggested councilors heed the wishes of residents or risk election retribution.
Regardless of such veiled threats, which Vice Mayor Tom Dugger said he found offensive, “we take resident concerns seriously.”
With the dismissal of developers, resident Glenda Roe said, “I am very glad about the decision. I just really trusted councilors to represent the citizens all over town.”
Development opponent Kevin Campbell was excited about the decision.
“I feel like we followed the rules, listened and communicated. I am pleased with the council vote,” he said.
Campus Crest also brought seven to 10 residents of a Grove property in Wichita, Kan., to the meeting. According to Chief Marketing Officer Shannon King, the company gave them only a free bus ride and lunch in exchange for their presence at the meeting.
None of the imported cadre addressed councilors. Several, like Cameron Bedel and Donnie Chauncey, privately expressed support for the Grove as a great place to live.
Recently, 700 signatures in support of development were collected and provided to the council, Crest staffer Alex Eyssen said.
“I am sad and disappointed that the city did not see the benefit the development would provide to residents and university students,” King said.
Further consideration would be given to another site location in Stillwater, she said.
“I am not surprised by resident reactions. I am surprised by the City Council,” she said.
According to King, all planned unit development and city requirements were met.
Councilors did not feel likewise.
“When you look at the comprehensive plan, people do have a right to be concerned. It did not offer transition,” Councilor Chuck Hopkins said.
If alternate solutions had been presented prior to a vote, sub-issues like drainage and necessary roadwork to accommodate additional density could have been resolved.
Bates said, “I believe there is support in the community for Campus Crest. We have to try to find the right location.”
Additional areas with proximity to Oklahoma State University have been provided by council to developers, he said. Stillwater remains in favor of development and additional housing, he added..
Nearby Hampton Inn and Suites owner Joe Martin concurred.
Martin said the area should allow for future commercial development and a no vote would significantly impact neighboring businesses.
“The growth of Stillwater and OSU is important to me,” he said.
Several councilors commended Campus Crest staffers on their professionalism.

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