The Woodward News

July 18, 2013

Commission delays zoning decision

Rowynn Ricks
Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — Woodward City Commissioners have delayed a vote on a proposed rezoning for the second time in a month.

City commissioners were slated to act Monday night on a request from Downs Partnership to rezone a piece of land in the approximately 300 block of Downs Ave. from R-1 Single Family Dwelling District to C-2 General Commercial District.

The request had been carried over from the previous meeting on July 1 when there weren't enough commissioners present to provide a super majority vote on the rezoning.  The super majority was required to potentially approve an emergency clause that would have  made the rezoning immediate if it was passed.

Only 3 commissioners were present for the July 1 meeting, and 4 are needed to establish a super majority vote.

And again this past Monday, there were only 3 commissioners in attendance as Mayor Gary Goetzinger was absent.  While the super majority vote was no longer needed, because the emergency clause was no longer attached to the rezoning, commissioners still decided to delay the vote.

The delay was at the request of Bryce Hodgden, a representative of Downs Partnership, who preferred to have the rezoning voted on by the full commission.

Mayor Pro-Tem Roscoe Hill agreed that "with rezonings we would like all the commissioners to be here."

He and his fellow city leaders agreed to postpone the vote until their Aug. 19 meeting because that's when they felt that all commissioners might be able to be present.

The proposed rezoning has been met with some protests from neighboring property owners who feel the rezoning would diminish their property value and negatively affect the residential feel of the area.

While the commissioners are taking their time to act on the rezoning, they quickly handed the other matters on Monday's brief agenda.

The commissioners first approved several membership appointments to city boards under their consent docket.  These appointments include Bobby Hayes to fill a vacancy on the Airport Authority; Polly Cruse and Jeff Wilson to serve additional 3-year terms on the Parks and Beautification Board; and Steve Kohl and Dwight Hughes to serve another 2-year term on the Convention and Visitors Committee.

The commissioners then approved a contract with Simplex Grinnel in the amount of $10,130.32 for annual testing and inspection of the city's fire response systems and equipment.  The contract included separate agreements for 16 different city facilities where the company will be inspecting fire alarms, sprinklers, extinguishers and/or kitchen hoods.

These facilities include the senior center, convention center, Kid's Inc., Fuller Park, aquatics center, rodeo arena, museum, golf pro shop, city offices and Pioneer Room, airport, cemetery, public works, Fire Station No. 2, emergency management offices, parks maintenance building, and the library.

Prior to approving the contract with Simplex Grinnel, Commissioner Steve Bogdahn asked why such a contract was necessary.

"We have a whole fire department, so why can't our fire department certify our system?" Bogdahn asked.

City Manager Alan Riffel then explained that Woodward's firefighters are not licensed to conduct the full inspections.

"They could certify our extinguishers but not the range hoods or things like that," Riffel said.

The city manager then noted that the city has used Simplex Grinnel in the past for these annual inspections.

The only other discussion during Monday's meeting was a brief report from Riffel about the City Manager Association of Oklahoma's summer conference which was held last week in Miami, Okla.

Riffel said he "gleaned" a lot of important information from the conference and in particular from a session led by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, discussing ground water statistics in the state.  He said this led to a discussion about water rationing, which is occurring in a number of communities across Oklahoma, including Enid and Bartlesville and Duncan as well as Oklahoma City, even despite recent rains.

"Even though this spring and summer has been wetter than the last 2 years, many communities are finding themselves in a predicament," Riffel said.  "It's a predicament that we have avoided."

He told The News that there are 2 main reasons why Woodward is not facing its own rationing problems.

"First we have the best groundwater source in the state, the Ogallala Aquifer, and second we've expanded our production capabilities significantly in the past few years to keep up with our growth," he said.