Council approves business developments in residential areas

MOORE — Moore City Council twice voted to approve zoning changes that allow businesses to develop sites near or within residential neighborhoods.

Both residents and the business developers spoke in front of council members and the public during Monday night’s regular meeting at city hall. In both cases, council sided with developers, paving the way for an office building just north of the 12th Street and Eastern Avenue intersection and a 24-hour service station, Excel Mart, at Poplar Drive and 27th Street.

The office building was a unanimous yes from council members. Mayor Glenn Lewis was the only opposing vote in a 5-1 decision about the service station.

“I vote not, because I have an obligation to protect the businesses that are already here, and there’s [a gas station] just like it in front of it,” Lewis said.

The gas station was a more contested issue, as Moore’s Planning Commission deadlocked 4-4 when voting to approve of the plans in its January meeting. Residents say they are concerned about the traffic it will bring to the neighborhood at all hours of the night and the potential for crime.

“The feedback I’ve gotten, I don’t think anyone wants this in the neighborhood,” Daniel White, who resides nearby, said. “The east half [of the property] is already zoned commercial. We’re talking a convenience store. It doesn’t take four acres. Leave the neighborhood preservation district alone.”

White also brought up what he sees as a high concentration of service stations in Moore already.

“How many convenience stores do we need?” he asked council.

Neal Do is the owner of the Excel Mart planned for construction. He said the site will not allow overnight parking, which will keep truckers from frequenting the gas station.

“Most of the professional drivers, they’ve already made up their mind most of the time at 100, 150 miles out,” Do said. “If our facility noted that there are no showers and no overnight parking, we’ve deterred a lot of those truckers. We don’t want to miss the opportunity to take care of local drivers going off of I-35 or 240 to fill up, buy food or drinks they need.”

Residents also expressed concerns about the gas station either shutting down eventually or never being constructed. They pointed to a Valero station on 89th Street that closed down. It led to an eyesore, with litter building up and vehicles parking there for long time frames.

Do said he did take over that Valero from its original company, but they had planned to close it down at some point. He said a Honda dealership will be moving there soon and that the Poplar and 27th Street service station is a different kind of investment.

“The store was in a bind,” Do said. “He (the owner) asked me to take over the store, so we did have a lease on it. In our mind, that was a temporary deal.

“When you make this kind of investment, you put a lot of effort in to maintain the facility and take care of the customers, because that’s your business.”

Council member Mark Hamm motioned to approve the zoning change to bring in the service station and Jason Blair seconded.

The opposition to the office building planned near 12th Street and Eastern Avenue was quieter. Residents in the nearby neighborhood are mainly concerned with light pollution and how it will impact property values.

“My house is directly across the street from where this will go in,” Jared Grafton said. “My main concern is coming out every morning and seeing a wall or the backside of a business. This neighborhood is a somewhat small neighborhood. There’s a park next to my house. I don’t think it will cause any issues as far as crime is concerned, but it will cause light pollution due to security lighting.”

The Planning Commission approved the re-zoning application unanimously under the condition that a planned four-foot fence be doubled to an eight-foot fence to cut down on light pollution. Patricia Davidson, whose company D&D Properties is developing the site, said the four-foot fence was agreed upon when she spoke with residents in the area. She said the idea was to build something that went with the surrounding neighborhood.

“Our vision was to come down and build something very nice that would fit in this lot,” Davidson said. “Before, it was zoned for the duplexes. I personally have enough of those to take care of. So we went into this vision to do an office building. Lawyers, insurance, something like that.”

Council member Danielle McKenzie, who motioned to approve the rezoning application, said the design of the building looks more like a home than an office building.

“It does look much more like a house than some businesses and office complexes,” McKenzie said. “Right now it’s zoned multi-family residential, so it could be duplexes. You would still see the back of a house or a duplex. That’s what it is now.”

Davidson said there are no tenants lined up to occupy the office building currently.

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