The rezone of a 27-acre tract in northeast Stillwater was advanced to second reading by the Stillwater City Council on Monday night. The change creates consistent small-lot single-family zoning across the tract, allowing more houses to be built on it.
Residents in the neighborhood that surrounds Skyline Elementary and Stillwater Junior High have turned out multiple times to express their reservations to both the City Council and the Stillwater Planning Commission about a developer’s plans to build 132 houses on the land located north of Sunrise Avenue, directly east of the junior high.
One of their chief concerns is traffic: Every outlet identified so far would deposit traffic from the development, called Skyline East, in or just outside of a school zone near the junior high.
Traffic already backs up for blocks during drop-off and pick-up at both schools, multiple parents told the News Press.
Several city councilors commented Monday that they continue to receive emails from residents weighing in on the development.
The Stillwater Planning Commission will be considering a preliminary plat for Skyline East when it meets at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Councilor Amy Dzialowski said she has been advising people to share their thoughts with the Planning Commission because the City Council doesn’t have much control of the process at this point.
Once the ordinance rezoning the acreage has passed two readings by the City Council, it won’t be involved again until time to accept improvements, like streets and utility lines, that the city is responsible for maintaining.
City Attorney John Dorman explained that that the Planning Commission approves the preliminary plat. After the applicant addresses any issues raised during that phase, it comes back for consideration as a final plat.
In this case, the Planning Commission required the applicant to complete a traffic study before it would consider granting a preliminary plat. That step is usually part of the final plat but the Planning Commission was responding to the neighbors’ concerns.
In other business, the councilors granted Rex Hays, the owner of a commercial property at 1010 and 1012 S. Main Street, more time to address an abatement order for grass, weeds and junk. Hays received a citation on Dec. 30 that gave him 10 days to address the conditions.
He says he has been going through the stuff and filling up roll-off trash containers but is overwhelmed by the task before him. He asked for a three month extension due to the scale of the project and health issues he is dealing with.
“I’m being bombarded with stuff that’s completely outside of my ability to manage,” he said.
City Attorney John Dorman said the property has been in much the same condition for many years. A photo taken by a code enforcement officer in 2012 shows things like an Airstream trailer and several junk cars that haven’t moved.
Hays added more to the pile when he took items the city was clearing from a property he owns at 10th Avenue and Husband Street and moved them into this yard, Dorman said.
Councilor John Wedlake expressed concern about Hays’ ongoing health issues how they impact his ability to complete the job.
“You have more important things to worry about,” Wedlake said. “Maybe it’s time to let someone step in and help you clean this up.”
The councilors ultimately extended Hays’ deadline to April 30, at which point, the City will deal with anything that is left and a lien will be placed on the property.
“You also have neighbors and other people who are affected by the condition of your property,” Mayor Will Joyce said.
The extension was approved 4-1, with Councilor Alane Zannotti voting against it. Zannotti said it’s important for the city to be fair and apply the same standards to everyone.
Hays owns several properties that have presented ongoing code enforcement issues for years.
The City demolished a fire-damaged house he owned at 1001 S. Husband Street in March 2019, after it went without repairs to the large hole in its roof for more than two years. He petitoned the Payne County court to stop the demolition, saying he hadn’t been given enough time to make the repairs but the house was ultimately torn down. Hays also owns the next two houses on Husband Street in addition to the commercial property on Main Street.