Applicants say zoning doesn’t fit with city’s comprehensive plan
Councilmembers turned down a residential request that would have vacated the final 15 feet of the dead-in W. Rancho Drive and perhaps set the city up to receive similar requests.
At their Dec. 20 meeting, the council voted unanimously against the request made by Jeff Lindsay and Shawn Tidwell after a public hearing and lengthy discussion.
Community Development Director Helsel first explained the application which aims to “preserve the peace and harmony of Rancho Estates and to provide the continuance of the utility easement.” She stated city staff recommended denial because there was no benefit to the city to do so.
She noted Deborah Jansak of nearby 302 S. Owen Drive had been previously granted her request to install a gate to access W. Rancho Drive.
Also, Oklahoma Natural Gas submitted an objection letter and CK Energy (formerly Caddo Electric) called to voice concerns.
Time to talk
In the public hearing, a CK Energy representative stated the company did not want to lose any rights to access or locate their utilities. He added the only acceptable way would be to grant the “easement in perpetuity” so CK Energy could maintain their facilities there.
Joe Weaver of Bass Law Firm in El Reno, then spoke on behalf of the applicants. He said their request was to only close the last 15 feet of the road and the easement vacation would be another step.
Weaver said Rancho Dr. is very small with no curbs or gutters and dead ends to Jansak’s agricultural property. He alleged Rancho Estates is incompatible to the unplatted agricultural property.
“If the gate is there, any number of people could use it for ropings, combines, tractors, etc. and we are trying to protect the neighborhood and the residential aspects of it,” Waver said.
If approved, the clients are willing to provide the utility easements in the 15 feet and pay for a wooden locked gate to give emergency services access to Jansak’s property if needed. Weaver also asked if their request was not granted, the council should revoke Jansak’s approved permit to install a gate.
Jansak then addressed the council to clarify what she called “misstatements” made by the applicants’ attorney at the last council meeting. She said she did not have alternate access to her property from the north and has no intention to drive any large farm equipment on W. Rancho Drive, except for hay delivery.
Jansak noted the fence has been there since 1999 and city ordinances prevent her from further developing the land. At one time, the two properties were split by four lots, she noted, but the road was extended to accommodate additional homes, including the applicants.
She made a plea to the council for denial, saying her gate installation has already begun.
Another resident, Michelle Fuller of 448 E. Carson Lane, said if the council approved the request, she would approach the city for a similar request near her property.
Norma Brown, 230 S. Owen Dr, confirmed that Jansak cannot have access to the north on her private road. Lindsay responded saying emergency access is always available even on private roads.
Finally, Jimmy Rodriguez, 1247 W. Rancho Dr, also stated concerns about the street getting muddy from the farm traffic. Jansak said she planned on using gravel to help with this.
Applicants make plea
Jeff Lindsay, 1250 W. Rancho Dr, said Jansak’s gate, once constructed, proposes additional issues to Rancho Drive and its existing flooding issues. He said the street was meant to have a cul-de-sac with no through access.
Lindsay pointed to a locked emergency gate in Magnolia Trace to separate the agriculture and residential property. The homeowner alleged Jansak’s gate breaks Chapter 106 in the Comprehensive Plan if allowed vehicular access.
Mayor Jay Adams responded that the city’s Comprehensive Plan is not law, but is merely guides the council.
Lindsay commented back it was the council’s responsibility to uphold the plan.
Ward 3 councilmember Brian Grider asked Lindsay to clarify and if he was telling the council they would be breaking the law if they did not vote his way.
Lindsay said that wasn’t what he said. Instead, he wanted to test the issue and didn’t want to file the vacation. He really just wanted to stop the gate so “Chapter 6 is not broken.”
Grider then questioned why Lindsay didn’t file a stop work order if that is what he was wanting and Lindsay said he was told by Helsel this wasn’t an option and he had to go another route.
Tidwell, second applicant, said he lived the closest to Jansak’s property and that the two do not see eye-to-eye. He said he is worried emergency crews will not be able to access his residence due to the road being blocked from Jansak’s use. He also noted a survey found her fence is on his property.
Helsel said the appropriate zoning buffer for agriculture is R-E, a combination of some agricultural uses and residential, when asked by councilmember Grider.
Mayor Adams asked about the original Rancho Estates plat and if it included a cul-de-sac, to which Helsel answered no.
The mayor said he supports following staff recommendation but makes sure he does his own research. He said this is the first time in 12+ years he has heard a concern about zoning capability of this nature because they are basically alike.
He agreed that the city would be hit with similar requests if the applicants request is approved.