By Jacob Sturm
Accusations were flying around the Council Chambers at Mustang City Hall on June 28 when the Planning Commission discussed a special use permit for the Lions Club.
In fact, most of the accusations were not pertaining to the decision the Commission had to make. The Planning Commission’s role is to decide what recommendation to send to the Mustang City Council for their deliberation and either approval or a denial of the suggested actions to take.
That didn’t stop members of the Lions Club and neighbors familiar with the issue to make their voices heard through accusations, accounts of their experiences with the Lions Club and opinions on the local club located at 524 Frisco Road near State Highway 152.
Planning Commission members met and made amendments to the staff recommendations before sending the discussion to the City Council meeting on July 12.
The City of Mustang became involved after the May 3 Mustang City Council meeting when Teddy Parker brought the situation to the attention of the council. Parker, the neighbor who is in the dispute with the Lions Club, rattled off a list of complaints about the club that included various forms of harassment through people the club has rented the building to for events and video surveillance of his house.
The Lions Club members did not attend the city council meeting.
Parker has been in a legal dispute with the Lions Club for some time. On Dec. 8, 2021, The Mustang Lions Club filed a petition against Parker for Trespassing, Nuisance and equitable relief. The filing indicates Parker had threatened Lions Club members with bodily harm and engaged in vulgar language within hearing distance of the Lions Club members.
The Lions Club filed a temporary restraining order and injunction of Parker on March 30 after Parker had built a fence and fishing dock on the property’s lake. Parker did not remove the fence and dock when he became informed of trespassing. The restraining order was terminated April 25.
Parker denied avoiding service, or making threats to the person serving the order to him until sheriff deputies served it to him on March 30 in his response to the restraining order. He claimed the Lions Club did not try serving the order to him for the four months (Dec. 8-March 30).
Parker’s legal counsel said six police cars were used to deliver the civil injunction. He also said the Lions Club’s goal has been to intimidate Parker throughout the process.
After the lawsuit was filed, Parker claimed Lions Club President, Rob Estes, asked him to help make improvements on the lake. Estes said removing the fence and dock from the lake was the original cause for suing Parker.
Parker denied nearly every claim in the lawsuit and said he has been working to improve the property through removing silt (a non-usable material) to which he considered it an improvement in a responding document.
According to the initial restraining order application, the Lions Club believed the excavation and removal of dirt could impact the lake. A restraining order was returned served on April 1, 2022.
One of the Lions Clubs replies in the legal proceedings available on the Oklahoma State Courts Network (OSCN.net) indicated Parker has numerous other cases filed against him in the recent past. Those filings come from Oklahoma, Canadian and Cleveland Counties alone.
On June 28, the issue had not been resolved. Instead, Parker’s lawyer was present at the Planning Commission special meeting to make his case, which seemed similar to Parker’s May 3 appeal to the Council.
Lions Club President, Rob Estes, provided information he prepared and said the Lions Club has done nothing but good for Mustang. He claimed the video cameras on the Lions Club property are not pointed at the Parkers’ residence.
Estes took over as Lions Club President in 2019.
“We’re not a mad band of raving Cowboys,” Estes said. “We’re good, decent people trying to provide a service for our community. That’s it.”
Parker responded with accusations toward the Lions Club members, who sat in the back-right corner of the Council Chambers. That invoked unprompted heckling calling Parker a liar as he was presenting to the Commission.
His attorney said officers with the Mustang Police Department told Parker they would not enforce a cease and desist he got from the city. The Mustang Times couldn’t locate the cease and desist Parker’s attorney referenced by press time.
Mustang Police Chief, Rob Groseclose, indicated mustang police officers have responded to at least 15 calls related to the Lions Club dispute since Jan. 1.
In the end, none of the accusations could be resolved by the Planning Commission. Parker and the Lions Club’s legal dispute that will be resolved in court would be a better forum for those accusations.
Other citizens and Commissioners made comments about the Lions Club that had more pertinent information for the discussion anticipated at the meeting.
One of the main concerns centered around the property itself. County Records indicated the building on the property was built in 1982, but Commissioner Billy McDaniel, who graduated Mustang High School in 1980, recalled the property when he was in high school. That brought question marks to the County Records’ information, including the ownership of the property.
The building has been zoned R-E (Residential Estates) and the surrounding properties are also zoned that way.
“In doing the research on this, I’ve looked at it, and in kind of going through this (and), bottom line, (I’m) trying to understand how in the world this fell through the cracks for all these years,” McDaniel said. “To me, when the Lions Club was established, …I don’t quite understand why the city leaders back then didn’t go in when they were rezoning and go ‘hey, this is what this is. Let’s zone it this way.’”
There were also citizens who mentioned weapons have been fired on the property in the past, and dead animal carcasses were found behind properties near the Lions Club. They asked for restrictions on firearms on the property, citing that weapons are not supposed to be fired in Mustang City Limits.
Parker’s lawyer mentioned ducks being shot in the pond from the Lions Club side of the property.
Concerns shifted to the impact removing private events from the building could have on Mustang. Pat Oltermann, a resident of Mustang, made the point that a family reunion, or other big events, does not have many places to meet in town and voiced concerns about removing the venue from that short list.
“I agree with Ms. Oltermann that there is not enough places in Mustang to hold events,” McDaniel said.
Planning Commissioners shared the concern and didn’t like the idea of restricting what a club can do on their own property. This brought hesitancy to limit the number of events open to the public. There were also concerns about how a decision could affect Lions Club fundraising, an important part of the club’s sustainability.
That’s where the special use permit comes in. The permit would require the Lions Club to go through the normal event application when they are hosting public events. The building would also need to pass inspections from a third party as part of the recommended stipulations. Commissioners agreed this would keep the city in the loop for what is going on at the club.
A special use permit has to be reevaluated every two years to make sure it is in compliance before it can be renewed. Deliberation on the special use permit has to assume the Lions Club owns the property, despite contrary information provided by the Parkers. City Attorney, Jonathan Miller, said the commissioners’ decision will be based on that info until the court of law changes that.
Nadia Parker, Teddy’s wife, urged the Commission to hold off on issuing a special use permit. She said the property is shared between themselves and the Lions Club, but the Parkers are opposed to the permit since they believe they are unsafe.
Staff did not recommend using the facility and property for private events and gatherings.
No Commissioner disputed the ADA compliance and inspections being mandated for the property.
Club monthly meetings will not apply to the special use permit. The club will have to go through the special event process with the city for any event open to the public, or private event. The Planning Commission did not accept all of the city staff’s recommendations, instead choosing to make some of their own recommendations to the City Council.
The City Council will hear those recommendations on July 12.