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Edmond council says no to event center

EDMOND — Saratoga Farms homeowners hired a sound consultant as part of their campaign to prove to the city council that an event center would create additional noise, something they did not want in a neighborhood where homes can cost as much as $2 million.

"Event centers are known troublemakers when it comes to noise," said John R. Shadley, a Tulsa engineer and consultant in vibration and acoustics.

Shadley assured city council members that event centers book various kinds of bands, including rock, hip-hop and jazz. He said an event center should be no closer than a half mile from a residential area, assuming that all activities are held indoors, and much farther away if outdoor activities are allowed.

Neighbors talked for more than two hours during this week's meeting against rezoning 13.39 acres from single family to a commercial planned unit development, before council members voted 4-0 against the request of Cheri McNeill.

The property where McNeill wants to build the Las Palomas at Saratoga Farms Event Center is east of Santa Fe Avenue and a half-mile north of Covell Road. McNeill lives on the property. The 133-acre J.L. Mitch Park is on the south side of the property.

Randel Shadid, McNeill's attorney, said the event center would seat 350 people and have indoor and outdoor activities such as weddings, corporate events, bridal and baby showers, prayer breakfasts, parties and fundraisers. Alcohol would have been served on the property.

Shadid tried to appease neighbors by offering to remove speakers on the west and south sides of the building and add insulation to the building.

Shadid estimated the event center would cost about $500,000. McNeill and her late husband, Don, developed the Saratoga Farms neighborhood.

"She's got a dream in mind," Shadid said. "It is going to take money to make this dream happen. She is aware of neighbors' concerns."

None of Shadid's offers helped. The neighbors did not want the event center because of concerns about noise, traffic and security.

"The bottom line is that a commercial events center does not belong in a residential area, and would impose an unfair burden on the surrounding neighborhoods," said Greg Pilcher, vice president of the Saratoga Farms Homeowners Association.

Pilcher quoted from the Edmond zoning plan that "Neighboring land uses should maintain and enhance the enjoyment or value of properties."

"The proposed event center fails that test," Pilcher said. "Indeed, it would impair both the enjoyment and the value of surrounding properties and we urge you to deny the application."

Pilcher said the homeowners were promised when they bought their homes a "country-like setting and were assured that "security, serenity and timeless architectural styles will allow your family the joy of 'a pace reminiscent of the past.' "

"In short, the proposed events center will destroy the very attributes the developer previously promised, and for which Saratoga Farms homeowners previously paid," Pilcher said.

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 ›

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