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Midwest City modifies subdivision regulations

By Jeff Harrison
Managing Editor

Midwest City is changing how it handles the development of small subdivisions.

The city council recently approved changes to its subdivision regulations including the platting process for subdivisions and required improvements for substandard roads and sidewalks.

The revised policies will give the city more control over infrastructure improvements while providing developers flexibility to make payments in-lieu of required street and sidewalk improvements.

City officials say the ordinance changes create a system that is fair for the city and developers and will not scare off future development.

“The ultimate goal was to get something that we could live with and that we could say is fair for everybody and it wasn’t going to curtail development,” said Councilman Pat Byrne, who was instrumental in studying the issue.

The ordinance changes impact the process of subdividing or lot splitting small acreages to allow for additional residential development. That type of development has occurred over the past 30-40 years on the city’s east side as additional land has been annexed into city limits.

Under the previous rules, much of the infill or incremental development was done through the replat process, which did not require drainage, street and improvement plans.City council and staff had little leverage to address problems created by increased density.

Subdivisions with five or less lots will require a minor plat. The city council will have the ability to request any item that is required during a preliminary plat, such as a drainage study or other areas of concern.Those subdivisions with more than five lots must have both a preliminary and final plat.

“The biggest thing is the drainage studies,” said Byrne. “We have so many drainage issues that have never been dealt with in the past. It’s us that started to deal with it. And the list is long of things that need to be fixed. This will give us the ability to do it.”

The city eliminated the option to replat. A replat could be done for all or a portion of a recorded plat without vacation.

Midwest City also changed its process for required street and sidewalk improvements for new residential developments.

The new policy allows developers either to make the required street and sidewalk improvements or pay a smaller fee in-lieu of the improvements. The in-lieu fees are 70% of the cost of construction. The in-lieu costs are $18.02 per linear foot for sidewalks, and $104.10 per linear foot for roads. The rates are automatically tied to inflation.

In the past, developers were required to make half-street improvements and install sidewalks for new developments or make a full payment in-lieu of the improvements.The city had historically granted waivers for these improvements, which often led to problems down the road.

“The development community was consistently seeking waivers for infrastructure for sidewalks and roadways,” said Mark Zitzow with Johnson & Associates. “In doing so, developments occurred at a much greater density than the infrastructure could handle. That’d come back to the city to make improvements with a bond project or other funds.”

Funds collected from the in-lieu fees can be used for capital improvement projects related to transportation throughout the city. It includes as matching funds for federal or state transportation projects. It cannot be used for operating or maintenance costs.

Midwest City has been studying this issue for some time. The city hired Johnson and Associates, a civil engineering firm, to assist. The committee included Councilman Pat Byrne, Planning Commissioner Rick Dawkins, Mayor Matt Dukes and Joel Bryant, a local developer.

Byrne said he originally had a hard-line approach and believed developers should pay the entire cost. His stance softened after hearing from city staff and developers.

“Right away I wanted no waivers but that’s not realistic,” Byrne said. “This took a few meetings for everyone to get on the same page and do what is fair for the city and the developer.”

The planning commission recommended approval of the ordinance changes last month. The council unanimously approved the request at the Jan. 10 meeting.

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