PC Commissioner meeting minutes, April 8; Public hearing held concerning Asbury United Methodist Church location

April 12, 2024 | Headlines

PONCA CITY — The Ponca City Board of Commissioners met in regular session on April 8. Mayor Homer Nicholson called the meeting to order, which was followed by the pledge of allegiance. Commissioners Stephanie Austin, Robert Bodick, Garrett Bowers and Kelsey Wagner attended.

Ceremonies and Proclamations

Under Ceremonies and Proclamations, Nicholson presented a proclamation declaring that April was Fair Housing Month, urged all residents to reject bigotry of all kinds and practice the letter and spirit of Fair Housing Laws, and encouraged each citizen to become aware of and supportive of maximizing the concept of equal opportunities in housing.

The character trait of Cooperation was also introduced for the month of April and was defined as understanding others so I can effectively work with them.

Consent Agenda

Under the Consent Agenda, the City Commission approved the minutes of the Ponca City Board of Commissioners regular session held March 25 and the work session held April 1. A resolution appropriating money for the payment of claims against the City of Ponca City;  A resolution appointing members to various boards and commissions and establishing terms of office; A resolution amending the operating budget of various funds for Fiscal Year 2023-24; and issuing Western Enterprises, Inc. a permit to conduct a fireworks display at West Lake Ponca Dam on July 4 and authorizing the mayor to execute a pyrotechnical production contract for the event with Western Enterprises, Inc., in the amount of $36,500.

Reports

Under Reports, city manager Craig Stephenson reported that Pretty Up Ponca continues, as Spring Clean-Up is underway thru Saturday, April 13.

Commission Budget Hearings will be held Monday, April 15 and Tuesday, April 16 in the Commission Chamber of City Hall; Earth Day 2024 will be held on Monday, April 22 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Unity Gym; and Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day will be held Saturday, April 27, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., in the Phillips 66 parking lot at Oak Street and South Ave.

Public Hearings

Under Public Hearings, the City Commission conducted a public hearing and approved a petition for a Special Use Permit in the R-1 Single Family Residential District for a Residential Care Facility, providing wrap around services associated with Domestic Violence, at 700 west Liberty Ave., with the condition that there be no parking on the west side of Shady Place.   

The petition concerned the former Asbury United Methodist Church that has been unoccupied since September of 2021. A local social services agency, Survivor Resources Network, has the opportunity to acquire this building and premises for the purpose of expanding their wrap around services in the Ponca City area. SRN already owns and operates a shelter for victims of domestic violence, but their administrative offices and staff are situated in the City Central building on east Oklahoma and the agency is desirous of more usable space. They have no plans at this time to provide any sheltering for their clients or the homeless population in general. They instead will serve exclusively domestic violence clientele and have a staff of up to five individuals who will office and provide services at this location, primarily during regular working hours.

The surrounding neighborhood of 700 west Liberty Avenue consists exclusively of older residences that were constructed in the 1950s and 1960s, many of which are not owner occupied. The exception is the half-block of residences located directly across the street from the church, on the east side of Shady Place. Liberty Elementary School lies in close proximity to the east on the north side of Liberty Ave., as does a city park. The church was constructed on the subject site back in 1960, although the land was originally platted for single family residences.  Access to the site is from Liberty Ave., which is a collector street and there is an exit onto Shady Place. A total of eight hard surface parking spaces are provided at or near the entrance to the west side of the building and additional hard surface parallel parking is available further south along the alley.                 

The City’s Zoning Code offered two alternatives for considering and approving an application such as this.  The church property could have been zoned R-3 Multi-Family Residential, which permits uses such as family and organizational social services by right. The term social service is quite broad and can include any number and types of agencies who provide services to persons in need of assistance ranging from and including those who are pregnant, homeless, suffer from domestic violence, substance abuse, mental illness, etc. A change of zoning to R-3 would permit any social service agency providing these type services, as well as multi-family housing, and office and light commercial uses.  This alternative is open ended and doesn’t offer much protection to area residents when it comes to the re-purposing of this building and premises. 

The other alternative was to consider and approve a Special Use Permit for a residential care facility which is defined in the Zoning Code as including agencies serving persons in battered spouse shelters, and other programs of treatment, care supervision, or rehabilitation.  The term battered spouse is no longer used by social services agencies and the proper term is domestic violence. So, the application for a Special Use Permit was considered and approved specifically for services associated with domestic violence, excluding a shelter, and none of the other uses permitted under the definition of a residential care facility. The commission can approve, approve conditionally, or deny a Special Use Permit application. Any deviation from an approved or conditionally approved Special Use Permit shall be considered invalid and a violation of the Zoning Code unless said deviation is first submitted to and is approved by the Commission in accordance with the notice and procedural requirements set forth for any Special Use Permit.  

New Business

Under New Business, the City Commission approved an ordinance amending City Code, Title 9, Chapter 8D, Section 2 regarding Ponca City Broadband rates, repealing ordinances in conflict, providing for severability and establishing an effective date. By Charter, the Board of Commissioners defines and establishes all utility divisions, services and rates by ordinance. Recommended changes to the existing lines of residential broadband require changing the Ordinance that defines them. This ordinance changes the service levels for Gold and Platinum Residential service (without rate increases), provides a new rate structure for Gold, Platinum and Diamond level Rural Residential service, and changes the service levels for Commercial Broadband units of service.

Commissioners approved a resolution setting non-utility rates, fees and charges for the City of Ponca City Parks and Recreation Department. In 2006, the City of Ponca City purchased a Showmaster portable stage for community events. The Parks and Recreation Department maintains and delivers the stage for all stage rentals. In 2009, the current fees were established for rental of the stage and those rates have not been increased. At the April 1, 2024 Commission Work Session, staff was directed to raise those rates to more closely match market rates. The approved fees include the following: City Limits First Day Rate ($500.00), In City Limits Additional Days ($150), and Refundable Cleaning Deposit ($300), as well as the approved variance fees for Outside City Limits First Day Rate ($1,000) and Outside City Limits Additional Days $300. Requests deviating from Standard Operating Policy 30 must be presented to the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board and approved by the City Commission.

In a related item, the City Commission approved an application from Top Down CPM for the use of the Self-Contained Showmaster Mobile Stage on June 29 for a company celebration at a private residence outside of the City limits. In February, the Parks and Recreation Department received a request from Top Down CPM to use the Showmaster Mobile Stage for a company picnic. Top Down CPM requested using the stage outside of city limits on June 29 at 112 Riverview Drive, Ponca City. Standard Operating Policy 30 states, “Requests to set up stage on private property inside City limits must be presented to the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board and approved by City Commission.” Since the location for delivery is outside of City limits, Staff denied the request for the rental of the stage. However, per SOP 30, “Requests which deviate from the guidelines set forth must be presented to the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board and approved by the City Commission.” 

PCUA (PONCA CITY UTILITY AUTHORITY)

PCUA Consent

Under PCUA Consent, the PCUA Trustees approved the minutes of the PCUA regular session held March 25, 2024 and a resolution appropriating money for the payment of claims against the PCUA of Ponca City.