It encompasses more than 33 blocks and 70 acres of the heart of Stillwater, and drew an overflow crowd to the Municipal Building Monday as the Stillwater City Council voted 5-0 to move forward with a downtown business improvement district.

“It’s time to do something besides a plan,” said City Manager Dan Galloway, who presented information on the tax assessment district.

The district will include 342 properties and stretch from Fourth to 15th avenues and Duncan to Lowry. Private properties will be assessed 3 percent of their assessed value as of July 16, with public and tax exempt properties to be assessed 3.962 cents per square foot.

The assessment will run for 10 years and have a fixed rate for the first five years. A new rate will be determined after five years and the assessment rate will be locked until the BID expires.

A public hearing on the proposed district drew 15 residents to speak in favor of the BID with nine standing in opposition. Opposition was raised over those with single family use assessed to contribute to downtown business improvement.

“We as a council have to look at the greater good.” said Mayor Roger McMillian. “In my mind it’s not about downtown, it’s about our community.”

McMillian said he was concerned for individual property owners and zoning changes and modified building regulations were part of the package.

According to Galloway, criteria for identifying the area was determined through current contiguous commercial zoning. Two portions in the area are zoned for multiple family residential.

The city also announced a commitment to the BID with a future for the Katz building, zoning changes, pedestrian improvements, tax benefits and replacement of the existing street lights.

“The city could be the entity to step up and make it work,” Galloway said.

He said downtown needs to be anchored through the acquisition of the Katz building. The Stillwater Children’s Museum has a contract to purchase the building and the city will help with financing. Space will be rented to the museum and the Stillwater Convention and Visitors Bureau once the building is renovated.

Galloway said improvement to the streetscape will be initiated with the replacement of 30 to 50 existing street lights with period lights similar to those on the Western Avenue bridge.

The BID schedule will see a public hearing on the creation of the district at the Aug, 6 meeting of the council.

The regular meeting of the council began with several residents speaking on flooding concerns. Residents explained to the council about flooding of houses on 23rd Avenue due to development in the area and houses being built below street level. Houses that flooded were less than three years old.

Flood victim Jamie Lynch said he believes the flooding happened through no fault of his own. Lynch cited drainage changes from development to the south and said flooding such as what happened shouldn’t occur in a new neighborhood.

Mike Payne echoed Lynch and told the council of the two inches of water that stood in his house Friday. He also believes the flooding is no fault of his own and said his house is three years old and not in a flood plain.

The damage from the flooding also caused the footing of one house to shift due to water under the foundation. That house is two years old.

Former city employee David Barth said the city’s stormwater program must be examined.

“I challenge you all, the City Council, to take a look at this” he said.

He said the height of finished floors in relation to the curb should be required for residential development and currently it is only required on commercial development.

McMillian said he anticipated an item concerning the residential flooding will appear on the next docket.

A request for a public hearing for review of a denial of a sidewalk waiver by Stillwater Planning Commission was withdrawn.

The council concluded its meeting by entering executive session for confidential discussion of several items, including labor negotiations with International Association of Firefighters Local 2095.

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