By Jon Watje
Local residents are fighting against plans for a new, adjacent housing subdivision, even if it may take legal action.
Residents from Westbury South and neighboring additions are upset about a preliminary plat for Cottonwood Creek, which was developed by Arbor Land Development. They say that the plan calls for 'starter homes' that would decrease their property values and cause traffic issues.
Dozens of members of the Westbury South Neighborhood Association (WSNA) met at Mustang Town Center on Thursday, Sept. 12 to talk to Chris White, President of Arbor Land Development, and to voice their concerns and frustrations.
White said he intended to develop the property into about 6,600 to 10,000 square-foot lots and the development would be done in two phases. The development would include 150 lots and another entrance would come in from Morgan Road.
Residents said they did not like White's idea of placing two to three, 1,300 to 1,500 square-foot homes on a lot.
"We couldn't go larger because of the lot size," White said. "When you start building bridges and move a tremendous amount of dirt, your cost-per-lot goes way up and so in order to make economically feasible, we had to go with that size lot and home. What we want to do for that size product is to create the nicest product. The price of the lots for that size will be the highest price for lots of that size on record, so the bottom line is whoever buys those from us will have to build as nice of a product as can be to be able to make the economics work."
One of the main concerns from Westbury South residents was the future of the Westbury Country Club Golf Course that faces the entrance to the subdivision. The course was recently closed due to financial problems and White said he plans to develop two of the 18 holes on the property.
"The owner of the course approached me to help him through some of his financial difficulties and so I partnered with another company to create Arbor Land Development to hopefully keep a golf course in place there," White said. "What we ended up with is about 40 acres that starts with all the property on Morgan between Paisley and Thornberry Place and includes holes 1 and 9. Our original plan was not to include those because it was our primary goal to keep the golf course in place. But with the way this property works, with the meandering creek around the course, we really needed to acquire more property and the course's owner needed to sell more property."
As far as the future of the course, White said he had no idea what was going to happen.
"I am shocked as many probably are about the gates being locked," he said. "We have a relationship with some of the owner's creditors and we are trying to figure out what is going on there. He was in bankruptcy when we closed on the property and so, literally, every creditor had to sign off on a percentage of what they were due in order for us to clear out that 40 acres. I was shocked it happened, but it happened."
White said he and his company has talked to the Oklahoma City Planning Commission about their plans.
"They seem very comfortable with what we want to do," he said. "Our hope is to begin moving dirt on our first phase within the next month or two months. We are not 100 percent sure of who the builder is going to be, but I sell those lots to my partner and his group, than it will be very similar to the Brookstone development by 29th and Sara Road."
Mary Garrison has lived in Westbury South for 38 years and said she strongly opposed the proposed lot sizes for the new development.
"I had a long conversation with the city planner and he told me that those were the smallest lot sizes allowed by the city," Garrison said. "One of our major concerns is the size of these lots. Two to almost three of these lots make up one Westbury lot. That's not right."
Lorna Koeninger, Secretary of the Westbury South Neighborhood Association, also spoke out against the lot sizes.
"If this goes through, we are going to have little 1,300 square-foot homes right across Paisley Road from homes that are $200,000 to $300,000 homes," Koeninger said. "I am one for protecting property rights for any individual, but when my property rights start getting abused then I fight back."
Chaz Eubank, President of the Westbury South Neighborhood Association, told White of his frustration with the possibility of losing the golf course due to future development.
"You said you have lived in the area and love the area, but I don't think you love it as much as we do," Eubank said. "I understand that you guys are in this to make money. We love that golf course, we want that golf course. I have been here for 15 years and I want a golf course on this side of town. The fact that you are coming in here and destroying it really hacks me off. So, we are going to do everything we can to try to maintain our golf course."
Koeninger said she and other leaders of the association have consulted an attorney regarding the preliminary plat of Cottonwood Creek.
"He is an attorney who handles subdivision situations like this," she said. "We are only in the consulting stages right now because we want to make sure the membership does not have a problem with going ahead and proceeding if we need to. The only reason we would proceed with this attorney is if there was some possibility that we have a chance to fight this."
A meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 17 at 7 p.m. at the Church of the Good Shepherd with White, along with Oklahoma City Ward 3 City Councilman Larry McAtee and a member of the Oklahoma City Planning Commission.
"What we need to try to do is get the planning commission to defer their Sept. 26 meeting to a later date," Koeninger said. "That is our priority right now so we have more time to try to figure all of this out. The second thing is, we all love the golf course and want to keep the course. I have been in contact with the Club Corp of America, they buy out golf courses all over the country and we are looking into that. If this developer goes ahead and develops holes 1 and 9, we won't ever be able to do anything with that golf course. A 16-hole golf course is not sellable."