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Frustrated Edmond neighbors fail to get street closed amid land development

EDMOND — Attorney Todd McKinnis took issue with Smiling Hill property owners calling him deceitful in the homeowners' effort to close 34th Street just west of First Baptist Church.

Smiling Hill residents said church members promised them in 1991 the land behind their homes would not be developed. On Aug. 12, the church sold 5.8 acres to Midas Investments LLC, which might build single-family homes there.

Bryan Coyer, representing the Smiling Hill residents during a city council meeting Monday, said that three hours before the Aug. 16 planning commission meeting they were told the church had sold the property four days earlier.

Coyer said they had information the property did not sell until Aug. 31.

"Whoever communicated Aug. 12 was clearly deceitful and trying to nullify our attempts to close the street," Coyer said.

The pattern of deceit, Coyer said, continues among the church and with the current owners.

"There is no intent to deceive anyone and never has been," McKinnis said. "I have a copy of the deed, and I would be happy to hand it out."

McKinnis said he has a deed dated Aug. 12, the date the deal closed. Aug. 31 was the day the deed was filed, a notice to everyone else, the attorney said.

Council members denied a request by Hazel and Noland Simpkins and Bette Daniels to close the street that is the only access to the 5.8 acres.

Councilman Nick Massey said he understood the homeowners' frustration.

"I understand your frustration," Massey said. "That is something that can't be decided by the city of Edmond."

Elaine and Ron Pawley, Smiling Hill homeowners, said they were told in 1991 that things would never change in their backyard.

"One of the First Baptist Church deacons sat on my couch and said this is what they wanted to do," Elaine Pawley said. "They told me they were going to each house on Patterson and Banner. They promised to maintain the green space."

Massey said, "The only question is whether the city of Edmond closes this street. I don't see a legal basis to close this street."

Massey, Councilwoman Victoria Caldwell and Mayor Charles Lamb voted against closing the street.

"My primary concern is we would deny access and that seems difficult to defend," Lamb said.

Coyer said additional homes could create new drainage issues.

"The developer would have to put in the appropriate drainage," Lamb said. "This development occurred so far back, we didn't have drainage requirements. It is a different world."

Diana Baldwin

Diana Baldwin has been an Oklahoma journalist since 1976. She covered the Oklahoma City bombing and covered the downfall of Oklahoma City police forensic chemist Joyce Gilchrist misidentifying evidence. She wrote the original stories about the... Read more ›