By Jon Watje
Hundreds of residents have signed a petition, protesting a developer's plans to build homes on two of the 18 holes at the Westbury Country Club.
Members of the Westbury South Neighborhood Association (WSNA) will take the petition to the Oklahoma City Planning Commission at their meeting on Thursday, Sept. 26.
"We have about 30 to 40 pages of signatures," said Lorna Koeninger, Secretary of the Westbury South Neighborhood Association. "I would say we have somewhere between 300 and 500 signatures."
Chris White of Arbor Land Development said he plans to develop 150 lots for Cottonwood Creek on 40 acres of property along Morgan Road, which include holes 1 and 9 of the Westbury golf course. White said the owner of the course sold him the property. However, residents say they are concerned that the proposed lot and home sizes would affect their property values.
White said he planned on having 1,300 1,500 square-foot homes built on the plat.
Most of all, residents said they don't want the golf course to become a housing development.
Koeninger said Westbury South requested a continuance from the developer to study the issue, but he declined. Now, residents are pitching in money to hire an attorney.
"We are consulting with an attorney who deals with these kinds of situations," she said. "It looks like the only option we have of getting a continuance is hiring an attorney. Many of us were told when we moved into Westbury that the golf course would never be developed."
Residents signed a petition at a meeting at the Church of the Good Shepherd last week. Oklahoma City Ward 1 City Councilman Larry McAtee was also at the meeting to address any questions about the preliminary plat.
"If you decide to hire an attorney, the first thing he should do is go for a continuance and he will get one because he just got the information this week and needs time to prepare the case," McAtee said. "So even though the developer does not want to give you a continuance, he can get one on that ground right there."
Chaz Eubank, President of the Westbury South Neighborhood Association, asked McAtee if Oklahoma City would be interested in purchasing the golf course.
"What about the city taking ownership of the land," Eubank asked. "We have been waiting for this course to foreclose so someone could come in and take it over and make it what it used to be many years ago. If this goes through, we are going to lose the only golf course around here."
McAtee said that was not an option.
"At this point, the chances of that happening are very, very low," McAtee said. "There is zero money right now for the city to buy a golf course."
Ron Frangione, a spokesman for Westbury South and surrounding subdivisions, said there were other concerns regarding traffic and drainage issues if the preliminary plat was approved.
"A lot of these lots are in a flood plain and if the lots were bigger, it would cost the developer more money to elevate them," Frangione said.
Frangione said one of the only ways to stop the developer was to find the covenants for Westbury South and the golf course.
"We need to find something in the covenants that shows that the land could not be developed," he said. "I guarantee those covenants are there."
Councilman McAtee said some of the 40 acres in the Cottonwood Creek preliminary plat were actually originally zoned for apartments.
"The original zoning in some of that 40 acres was zoned R-4, which means they could bring in the bulldozers tomorrow and build apartments there if they wanted to," McAtee said.
Frangione voiced his frustration with not only the preliminary plat, but what he called the lack of attention from Oklahoma City regarding city services in Canadian County.
"Oklahoma City does not care about the Canadian County portion of the city," he said. "In Canadian County, there are 60,000 to 70,000 people that live in Oklahoma City. We have some major problems with our roads and drainage here. Councilman McAtee has to take notice of this."
Councilman McAtee gave his advice to the WSNA regarding what must be done to fight the developers plans.
"I would have a petition signed to show the planning commission that you are protesting the development," McAtee said. "I would have two or three people who can speak and articulate without getting mad and point out the things that you object, like the drainage and traffic issues. You will probably not win the lot size issue, but you can bring it up. The odds of that land staying an empty field are very, very low. Those are just the facts of life. But if you want to negotiate, that would look good for you to the planning commission."