Edmond-area housing park stopped by Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals
The Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals has stopped development of a manufactured home park in its tracks just outside the Edmond city limits.
The court ordered the Oklahoma County Board of Commissioners to declare a special use permit void that it approved in 1985 allowing the landowner to develop a mobile home park.
The property, 41 acres on the south side of Waterloo Road west of Coltrane Road, abutting Edmond, remained unimproved and undeveloped for decades, as upscale housing was built in the area. Controversy erupted after 30 years when subsequent landowners started developing the park.
The appeals court said a district court should have granted upset neighbors' request for a writ of mandamus last year ordering the county board to do its duty and formally recognize that the permit had long expired — a year after it was granted, in 1986, because it was not used by then.
The present landowner, Colorado-based Stonetown Edmond LLC, bought the property in 2017 and, based on the 32-year-old permit, continued developing a neighborhood started in 2015 by the seller, Hiwassee 80 LLC. The investors behind Stonetown Edmond own more than a dozen other mobile home parks in Oklahoma.
Neighbors organized as nonprofit North Coltrane Community Association Inc. first sued Hiwassee 80 and the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, seeking a declaratory judgment that the sewage treatment system for the park was not in compliance with the permit. Meanwhile, the county Planning Commission reviewed the permit and heard neighbors' complaint that the park was incompatible with the nearby upscale neighborhood. The commission rejected the complaint and recommended the county board take no action.
Knowing the property was under contract, the association voluntarily withdrew its suit against Hiwassee 80 and DEQ to allow the sale to Stonetown Edmond to close. The association then sued Hiwassee 80 and the Board of Commissioners, asking the district court to order the commissioners to declare the permit void. Stonetown was allowed to join the case as a defendant. The district court declined and the neighbors took the case to the appeals court.
Stonetown argued among other things that the appeal should be dismissed because the park had been substantially completed, that it had spent $1.72 million on the park since purchasing it, that $2.74 million had been spent on it in all, and that since Stonetown had not sought a stay or temporary injunction with the appeal pending, it should not be granted relief.
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The appeals court found otherwise, partly "because a defendant cannot spend its way around compliance with the law."
Representatives for Stonetown Edmond LLC could not be reached Tuesday.
Greg Riepl, a spokesman for North Coltrane Community Association, acknowledged the case could go to the Oklahoma Supreme Court but thought it unlikely since the appeals court "slammed them on every argument they made."
The property, red dirt exposed, remains unsightly and partially developed.
"Its right in my backyard," Riepl said. "That's why I've kind of been on the point on this."