Planning rejects right-of-way vacation | News

The Norman Planning Commission Thursday rejected a right-of-way vacation in a housing addition built in the 1950s following concerns that an elderly resident would not have access to her property.

The motion to reject was carried 4-3. Commissioners Cameron Brewer, Steven McDaniel and Erica Bird voted against the motion, and Kevan Parker, Liz McKown, Jim Griffith and Michael Jablonski voted for it.

Karen Diers, who just turned 90, said the opening has provided essential entrance to her property from the west, noting it was her only access point to the property when 12th Avenue SE was widened.

Diers, lives on the four-acre tract east of the easement. Her father built a home on the farm in 1951.

Commissioner Michael Jablonski said because the area is currently zoned residential, they should be able to keep their options open. He agrees that no one would want to see the road connect to 12th Avenue SE or to commercial property, but letting it connect to future residential property seemed reasonable.

Ronald K. Dogion requested to close a portion of Creston Way, located east of Tollie Drive. Staff supported the request as there is no public street or paving located within the right-of-way, the property to the east has principal access to 12th Ave. and it will likely become commercial.

If the right-of-way were vacated, ownership would be determined by a judge in the district court, according to the applicant’s presentation.

Historically, commissioner Erica Bird said 50% would go to each side of the neighboring owners.

Attorney Sean Rieger, who gave the applicant presentation, said the access point, originally done in the mid-1950s, has dilapidated pavement that leads to a heavily treed area, which would likely become commercial along the edge of 12th Avenue SE.

The request to close that portion of Creston Way was made due to the likelihood of increased cut through traffic to avoid the busy intersection of Alameda and 12th Avenue SE.

According to the staff presentation, a reserved utility easement was requested by some of the utility companies, which would be provided at the time of vacation in the District Court.

“I do understand there’s a protest now that has come in the past few days, which is the property owner I understand to the east,” Rieger said. “We’re open to maintaining a pedestrian or bicycle easement pathway that gets them a connection in that way, which I think would maybe be something that might be of interest to them.”

She also mentioned that the area serves as a nature experience in her backyard.

“My hope is that this is rejected and that the opening will remain accessible to me,” Diers said.

Diers’ daughter, Sky, said the protest was raised due to the desire to maintain access to the property.

“We don’t want to close any doors for when that property is ultimately sold,” Sky said. “I’m not quite sure why we should suffer just because somebody else wants it.”

Bird said there is a potential financial implication to that neighbor by making the choice, although she appreciated the applicant’s willingness to allow some pedestrian access.

Commissioner Kevan Parker said if they allow the vacation, it limits what the future development of the adjacent property could be.

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