Habitat for Humanity project approved

Midwest City approves replat; denies waiver for required street improvements

By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City Beacon

Midwest City leaders last week approved a proposal from Habitat for Humanity of Central Oklahoma to build 10 houses on the city’s north side but denied a waiver for required street improvements as part of the development.

Habitat for Humanity of Central Oklahoma asked the city council to divide five existing lots into 10 lots for single-family residential development. They also asked for a waiver from the city’s requirement that new developments include street improvements.

City leaders said that while they support the mission of Central Oklahoma Habitat, granting a waiver from the street improvements could send mixed messages to developers, create problems with storm water drainage, and possibly open the door for civil litigation. The city council has taken a hard stance against similar requests in recent years.

“I really struggled with this request, knowing the concept and what Habitat for Humanity is doing,” said Pat Byrne, Ward 2 Councilman. “I know us not approving this waiver is going to cost them money. But I can’t in good consciousness approve it after taking a stand on it before.”

The section of NE 5th St. where the development is proposed is a 20-foot wide asphalt roadway without curb and gutters. The street has been upgraded to a standard 26-foot wide concrete roadway with curb and gutters about 100 feet to the west of the proposed development. Central Oklahoma Habitat would have to tie the improvements to the standard section of roadway for a continuous run of curbing between existing and new.

“NE 5th St. is not even close to being a standard street,” Byrne said.

Ann Felton, chairman and CEO of Central Oklahoma Habitat, said the street improvements would increase the cost of the housing development and possibly jeopardize the entire project.

“If you could reconsider this it would be a great improvement in that area and provide homes for 10 families,” she said.

Since the land is already platted for five homes, Felton said they could build five houses without making any street improvements.

“I understand where you are coming from, but we could develop it now with five houses without doing street improvement,” she said.

Mayor Matt Dukes stood firm in opposition to the waiver request.

“I’m not an attorney, but I’m smart enough to know that inconsistency leads to litigation,” he said.

The council unanimously approved the proposed replat.

Following the vote, Felton said they will have to reconsider plans for the Midwest City property.

“I’m very disappointed in the vote tonight,” she said.

Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit focused on creating affordable housing for deserving individuals and families. The organization relies on volunteer labor and donations to build new houses.

Last year, Central Oklahoma Habitat dedicated its 1,000th house in the area.

 

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