Stillwater News Press

March 21, 2013

Man sues city over zoning decision

By Chris Day
Stillwater NewsPress

STILLWATER, Okla. — Stillwater businessman Robert Kerns calls the City Council’s refusal to rezone property on Mercury Avenue to allow construction of an apartment complex “discriminatory” and “unreasonable” in his lawsuit against the city.

Kerns owns 31.5 acres on Mercury Avenue. It is zoned industrial. Park 7 Group of Westin, Conn., wants to build a 275-unit, three-story apartment complex on the site.

The City Council rejected a request to rezone the property to residential multifamily on Feb. 21. On March 4, city councilors voted against a request to reconsider their decision.

The City Council arrived at its zoning decision following vehement objections to the zoning change at the February and March meetings by Lakeview Ridge residents. Lakeview Ridge is zoned residential multifamily, but is a neighborhood of single-family homes.

In Kerns’ lawsuit, filed on March 14 by the Stillwater law firm of Ellis and Ellis, Kerns seeks a court injunction to prevent Stillwater from enforcing its zoning ordinances in relation to the Mercury Avenue property.

It asked the court to prevent Stillwater from “enforcing or attempting to enforce the zoning ordinance of the City of Stillwater in any manner which would interfere with the residential multifamily use of Plaintiff’s property consistent with the provisions of a residential multifamily zoning classification.”

It also seeks other “relief, both legal and equitable,” to which the plaintiff may be entitled.

The lawsuit cites Stillwater’s proposed comprehensive land-use plan as one of the reasons for the lawsuit. The land-use plan shows the Mercury Avenue property zoned residential multifamily, according to the lawsuit.

The C3 comprehensive land-use plan hasn’t been presented to or adopted by the City Council.

The suit also states the City Council rezoned the property north of Mercury Avenue to residential multifamily. The City Council rezoned the north side of Mercury Avenue from industrial to residential multifamily in mid-2012, which allowed construction of the Aspen Heights complex.

Property north of Aspen Heights remains zoned industrial.

It’s not the first time a lawsuit has been filed over a zoning issue in Stillwater.

In 2008, Campus Crest Development L.L.C. filed suit after the city of Stillwater concerning rezoning of 16.2 acres that stretched from Hall of Fame Avenue to Virginia Avenue. The lawsuit was later dismissed without prejudice.