Owasso approves rezoning to accommodate Sam's Club
BY RHETT MORGAN World Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 04, 2012
7/04/12 at 8:04 AM
OWASSO - The City Council voted 3-2 on Tuesday night to rezone about 30 acres to accommodate a Sam's Club final plat that was approved in the spring.
The move came amid an "all-or-nothing" pronouncement by Tulsa attorney Lou Reynolds, a Sam's Club representative, who said the company would build there only if the zoning was changed from agricultural to commercial shopping.
The change was met with considerable concern from about a dozen residents of the Windsor Lake subdivision, who said the development immediately across from their neighborhood at 96th Street North would increase traffic and diminish home values and quality of life.
Operated by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the store will have roughly 136,000 square feet. It is expected to generate $1.8 million to $2.2 million in annual sales-tax revenue and will employ about 300 people.
Windsor Lake resident Dale Alimena told councilors that "you guys are being bullied," adding that the council got the "cart before the horse" when it approved the final plat in April.
"It's not fair, and it's not right," he said.
The City Council unanimously approved a $4 million-plus construction agreement between the Owasso Public Works Authority and Sam's Real Estate Trust in April, paving the way for the construction of a membership-only Sam's Club store at the northeast corner of 96th Street North and 129th East Avenue.
But the council approved the final plat under the mistaken belief that the property was zoned for commercial shopping.
When determining zoning on property within Owasso's fenceline, the city said its staff relies on zoning maps provided by the Indian Nations Council of Governments.
City Planner Bronce Stephenson said in a memo that several years ago, an INCOG zoning map mistakenly coded the property as commercial shopping when it was actually zoned agricultural.
That mistake necessitated Tuesday's action, which Councilors Doug Bonebrake, Chris Kelley and Jeri Moberly voted for and Councilors Charlie Brown and Patrick Ross voted against.
The council twice rejected motions by Brown and Ross to table the matter for two weeks for further discussion.
Tulsa attorney John Moody, hired by the Windsor Lake Homeowners Association, said the city needed to place transitional zoning in the 96th Street North frontage that faces the residential district.
"Please, listen to these people," Moody said.
Windsor Lake resident Dan Collard asked the council to heed the voice of the residents before the voice of the developer.
"Please do not put Bentonville (the Arkansas headquarters of Wal-Mart) before Owasso," he said.
Other neighborhood residents requested an access area other than across from the residential area.
Given the store's hard stance and its potential economic impact on the city, Kelley said he couldn't justify voting against the rezoning.
Sam's Real Estate Trust intends to buy about 30 acres, 18 of which will be used for the Sam's Club store. Five additional lots will be prepared and available for retail and business use.
To accommodate the development, water, sewer and street improvements must be made to the area.
Sam's would pay for the design and construction of the upgrades, which are estimated to cost $4.6 million.
The construction agreement will allow the Owasso Public Works Authority to reimburse Sam's an estimated $4.1 million from the sales taxes generated on the site.
The pact, approved Tuesday by the Owasso Public Works Authority, provides that Sam's would be reimbursed up to one-sixth of that amount annually.
Based on estimates of sales taxes generated by the project, the city would receive an additional $10.8 million to $13.2 million over the six-year period.
After reimbursing Sam's for the public improvements, the city would have an estimated $6.7 million to $9.1 million in increased sales-tax revenue during those six years.
Street recommendations call for widening 96th Street North east from the site to 138th East Avenue; 129th East Avenue north from 96th Street North to the U.S. 169 frontage road; and the frontage road from 129th East Avenue to 99th Street North.
Officials have urged that traffic signals be placed at the entrances to the Sam's Club from 96th Street North and the frontage road.
Original Print Headline: Owasso rezoning for Sam's Club OK'd
Rhett Morgan 918-581-8395