After years of no progress and a stalemate of sorts, the problems with the Cleveland Heights addition may be on their way to being solved.

The Moore City Council unanimously approved the creation of an Urban Renewal Authority during Monday's meeting. The authority will be tasked with handling the 160 acres of under-developed property in Cleveland Heights, which is bordered by Sunny Lane Road on the east and by NE 12th Street on the north.

Now that the creation of the authority has been approved, the next step is for Mayor Glenn Lewis to select five people who are not city council members to serve as commissioners of the authority. The council will vote to approve or disapprove of the selected commissioners at the council's next meeting on Nov. 18.

Development of the Cleveland Heights addition has been a problem for the city since the 1960's, City Manager Brooks Mitchell said. Many of the 650 lots were sold in the 1950's and 60's, but many problems emerged for owners who bought the land. The survey data on the property is wrong, leaving the 200 current lot owners with virtually none of the holding rights to enough contiguous lots to develop them.

Cleveland Heights also lacks proper infrastructure, and the properties are not tied into the city utility or sewer systems. This presents another road block to development for lot owners and city officials.

Mitchell said the Cleveland Heights addition would be the authority's primary focus.

"There's been a desire to develop the land (at Cleveland Heights) for a long time, but with other things happening in the city, it hasn't been a top priority," Mitchell said. "Now that we're passed all of that, this is the time to address those issues."

The Urban Renewal Authority will have tools at their disposal to help solve some of those issues. Mitchell said the first steps would be to resurvey the lots and contact the property owners. The desire would be to acquire as many of the lots as possible, which would open the door to new development through a request for proposals.

Mitchell said the hope is the authority can acquire the lots by purchasing them from the owners. However, they can acquire property through condemnation if other negotiations to obtain the property aren't successful.

Mitchell said the process will be lengthy, but acquiring the lots through purchase would shorten the necessary time needed to open Cleveland Heights for redevelopment, as opposed to acquiring them through condemnation.

Attorney Emily Pomeroy with the Center for Economic Development Law in Oklahoma City said the authority will be responsible for creating an urban renewal plan that would focus on the Cleveland Heights addition.

"A lot of time and effort has been put in to go through city leadership to stimulate development in this area," Pomeroy said. "The city has been very focused and determined to try to address these issues. Considering how much work the city has done on Cleveland Heights and the amount of information they've compiled on it, they have a lot of ways they can move forward."

The urban renewal plan will be sent to the Moore Planning Commission and then reviewed by the city council. The city council will hold two public hearings to discuss the urban renewal plan before voting on the plan.

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