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City denies zoning amendment for undeveloped property

Councilman Michael Ray offers his thoughts on the zoning amendment request at a recent City Council meeting. (Photo by Jacob Sturm)

By Jacob Sturm

Amidst uneasiness from the City Council, a zoning amendment that would have changed an
undeveloped piece of land from a C-3 (Commercial General District) to a C-5 (Commercial
Intensive District) zoning was denied.

The decision came following a process of discussion with the applicant’s representative at the
meeting, along with a previously initiated request at a prior Mustang Planning Commission
meeting that was recommended for denial at that time.

According to City Planner Ryan Conner, the city staff recommended a C-4 zoning. The applicant
appealed to the City Council regarding the zoning as part of the July 11 meeting.

Conner told the Mustang Times the commercial zoning districts are driven by the intensity of
the uses allowed within the districts. He said the larger the districts, like C-5 districts, would be
more busy areas usually near the highways.

He said the applicant was asking for a C-5 development in a retail neighborhood area during the
meeting. Conner then said there are avenues the applicant could have taken to help reduce the
risk for the city. He mentioned a PUD avenue that could have been taken to get storage space if
the applicant chose that path, which would have identified the vision of the development and
removed some of the unknown factors for council.

Cooper Hahn, who served as the applicant’s representative at the meeting, said his client’s new
buyer needed C-5 for the flexibility due to the size of the property and the types of uses the
buyer may be able to get from it.

“The big main use for C-5 that the commercial developer desires is the storage use,” Hahn said
during his presentation to council members. “The only way that developer can get storage use
is through C-5. There are PUD’s and there are commercial use permits that are also authorized,
both of which require very specific site plans, architects, engineers (resulting in a) significant
cost to a buyer that doesn’t own the property.”

One of the first concerns leading off the discussion at the meeting was the lack of knowing what
companies will be a part of the development as part of the site plan, and the uncertainty on
what will be built if the property zoning was changed to the applicant’s request. Councilman
Travis McKenzie explained his thoughts on the matter.

“I’m having a quandary because you don’t know what you’re going to put there, but you want
us to agree to a C-5 from a C-3,” McKenzie said.

Hahn stated the buyer did want storage use, and needed assurances as the anchor tenant to
offer additional retail space once they have their storage in place.

Councilman James Waugh then spoke on the plans for the additional retail, and indicated that
retail could then be C-5 retail which the city wouldn’t know about until the development

Councilman Josh Leete also spoke to the situation.

“The brick wall isn’t necessarily my concern with this,” Leete said. “It’s the fact that this isn’t
binding at all. It could be anything C-5… This scares me because this doesn’t hold anybody to

Multiple citizens spoke in opposition to the zoning change request, arguing that the risk of
making the land more flexible could lead to unwanted developments that residents were not
expecting when they purchased the houses nearby.

One of those citizens was Doug Eckert, who spoke with the Mustang Times following the
meeting. He said residents have voiced concerns about the plans for the property stemming
from a city council meeting on the subject two years ago. In the past few months, the same
neighbors got notice on the applicant’s intention for the C-5 zoning request.

“It seems like they didn’t have a plan for it,” Eckert said. “That’s our fear is (that) they say one
thing and they kind of say it with a ‘just trust us’ attitude, and it’s not a personal thing against
the representative there, it’s not a personal thing against the owner, but when you’re talking
about business deals like that you can’t just say ‘just trust me’. You’ve got to put it down on

Eckert said he was happy with the end decision the council made.

“I was happy that they’d heard the decision,” Eckert said. “The discussions made it sound like
they understood where we were coming from and understood the reason why we were asking
that it not be C-5.”

“…One of the first things I said when I got up there (to address the council) was I appreciate the
applicant in that in his presentation, he basically addressed all the things that we’ve brought up
in the past back when it happened a couple years ago, and then again on this time when we
went to the planning commission,” Eckert said. “They heard us when he said we want
commercial, they just were trying to do it in a way that doesn’t really make sense for us. They
heard us when we said we don’t want to just open it up to an unknown entity. They tried as
best as they could to give us an idea, but the fact was it was still just an idea, it was nothing set
in stone.”

Hahn was given a chance to address the council following public comments.

He encouraged the council to consider reviewing the PUD requirements or the conditional use
permits requirements based on what he heard from the residents.

Councilman Nathan Sholund spoke following the closing of the public hearing. He mentioned
the noise buffer for the storage development would be more quiet compared to other
development options like hotels and motorcycle repair shops. He said he recommended
approval for C-5, but said if the council was opposed to that he would prefer staying at C-3.

“As it stands to me when I’m looking at this, it’s a really good plan as far as we can tell,”
Sholund said. “If it’s three years down the road and they come in with something else, it can be
something different with a lot of different stores whether it’s C-3 or not.”

Michael Ray, the vice mayor for Mustang, explained that he was not in support of the C-5
rezoning, and said he supported staff’s recommendations of C-4 rezoning but not the C-5 as the
applicant wanted.

Waugh reiterated his thoughts.

“I think it ties us as a city, and as for our constituents and for our residents, I don’t think it’s a
good plan,” Waugh said. “I’m not going to recommend a C-5. I think a C-3 is exactly what the
space needs. Living over there, we are limited on places to actually have services in that area,
whether we are talking about haircuts or whatever.”

The rezoning was denied following the council’s discussion.

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