A proposal to rezone west Lawton property for industrial use — opposed by some adjacent property owners — will top the agenda when the City Council meets today.
The session, which begins at 6 p.m., follows a 5 p.m. meeting of a council study committee, appointed to field ideas to memorialize the late C.H. Brazzel. Both meetings will be held in the auditorium of Lawton City Hall, Southwest 9th and C. The meetings also are on the night that residents will determine whether city officials will get their new 2020 Capital Improvements Program.
The proposal for rezoning comes with a 5-1 recommendation from the City Planning Commission and would change what is now A-1 General Agricultural District and R-1 Single-Family Dwelling District on 142 acres to I-4 Heavy Industrial District. The property is located one mile north of West Lee Boulevard, on the east side of Goodyear Boulevard (and northeast of the existing industrial park that holds the Goodyear plant, among other industries).
The proposal comes from the Lawton Economic Development Corporation (LEDC), which is seeking to buy the property from the Clayton L. Green Revocable Trust to add to the stockpile of industry-ready land that LEDC is preparing so it can attract new entities to Lawton. The property also has been mentioned in recent discussions about Tax Increment Financing districts.
The rezoning takes the property from agricultural use and R-1 (the most restrictive zoning classification because it is intended for single family houses) to I-4, the least restrictive classification that is open to almost all industrial uses. The tract is located north of the Burlington Northern Railroad tracks, stretching from Goodyear Boulevard to Southwest 82nd Street, excluding the Wyatt Village housing addition. Recognizing that housing addition, LEDC’s rezoning application includes a 16-acre, 300 feet wide buffer zone on the north and west sides of Wyatt Village, to shield residents from the intense uses that I-4 zoning will attract.
Residents who spoke to the planning commission at its Jan. 30 meeting said it wasn’t enough. Jim Eason, a developer with a housing addition north of the proposed residential site, also is against the plan because of its potential effect on his addition.
Residents said they are concerned about the effect the industrial zoning will have on their property values, and the damage the noise and odors will cause to both them and the aesthetic value of an area which includes a creek that draws wildlife. Resident Bob Morris said the 300-foot-wide buffer is not wide enough to protect residents.
“It needs to be doubled,” he said.
LEDC members said their plan to provide the shovel ready sites that potential developers say they want in exchange for bringing new industry — with its accompanying jobs and payroll — to Lawton. LEDC President Brad Cooksey said the property is important because of its proximity to a railroad line, which is a definite draw for manufacturing companies.
In business that will begin an hour before the council meeting, four members will lead a special study committee meeting to field ideas to honor the late C.H. Brazzel, a 45-year veteran of Lawton Police Department who died in late January.
Residents have said Brazzel was more than a police officer; he was someone deeply attuned to his community and they want some way to honor his memory. Mayor Stan Booker said he and council members have been approached by those residents, and the council voted in late January to set up a study committee to explore ideas and analyze costs and potential funding sources. Among the ideas already being supported by residents is a move to name the new public safety in Brazzel’s honor.
Council members opted to appoint a committee to hear and weigh suggestions from residents before making any decisions. It is that committee — comprised of Ward 4 Councilman Jay Burk, Ward 6 Councilman Sean Fortenbaugh, Ward 7 Councilwoman Onreka Johnson and Ward 8 Councilman Randy Warren — who will lead that discussion today.
In other business, the council will consider:
• Meeting in executive session to conduct the first annual evaluation of City Manager Michael Cleghorn; and to be updated on an investigation launched by city administrators into the methods the city uses to calculate employee pensions.
• Hold a public hearing to consider a request from Travis Craig to grant a Use Permitted on Review allowing him to operate a medical marijuana growing facility in conjunction with a dispensary at 6105 Cache Road. The site, formerly a dry cleaners, is adjacent to an arterial and under city code, the council could allow operation of the growing facility as long as it is in conjunction with a dispensary (where licensed patients purchase medical marijuana products). While the proposal comes from the planning commission with a recommendation, at least one member was concerned the site is adjacent to a residential neighborhood.
• Allowing Lawton Fire Department to use $178,462 from the Fire Cost Recovery to purchase equipment: $91,198 for 139 sets of dual-certified firefighting/rescue gear and $87,264 for 36 sets of structural firefighting gear.
• Allowing Lawton Public Library to accept $2,000 from the Oklahoma Partnership for School Readiness Foundation to continue its 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten initiative. The program promotes early childhood reading by setting reading goads for children to achieve before they begin kindergarten.