Art Lawler Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org The Ada News
Pct. 1 Pontotoc County Commissioner Gary Starns gave it one last try Monday morning in his attempt to stop his two fellow commissioners from rezoning 2.45 acres of property in the Stonecipher Boulevard area from suburban to commercial.
In the end, all went as expected as Ada resident Nathan Dial got the rezoning he’s been seeking for almost two years.
“I think after several thousand dollars spent, David slew the Goliaths,” Dial said as he accepted a room full of congratulations from well-wishers who showed up to offer support.
The victory could turn out to be short-lived, since the city of Ada has corrected its legal notice which prevented the council from annexing the land — Dial’s property included — into the city limits of Ada.
That corrected legal notice has now been posted and the council is set to meet Feb. 19. If it annexes the property as expected, it would be free to return the zoning to A-2 suburban.
If those events were to occur, Dial’s new C-2 zoning might go right back to A-2, assuming the city would zone that way, once again preventing him from opening an auto/bus repair for-profit shop on his property.
Then again, nothing is certain in this ongoing drama. Dial’s attorney from Seminole, Jack Cadenhead, and his client believe the property would be “grandfathered” in at C-2.
The different sides disagree here, too, and it appears the court will have to make that determination.
At any rate, Dial and his legion of supporters are celebrating at having finally prevailed with the commission.
Starns' last attempt was to quiz District Attorney Chris Ross on what will happen if former citizens who have asked for — and been denied — zoning changes will be able to come back and sue the city. He said one such case has occurred within the last year.
Ross was asked afterward for a detailed copy of his responses to The Ada News.The questions are in bold-face followed by the answers.
If the county commission granted Dial’s request, could it result in lawsuits over persons previously denied similar requests for changes in zoning?
“My response is that it could possibly have an effect. The effect on past decisions would depend on how long ago they were made, as a statute of limitations would apply to some previous requests.
However, nothing would prevent those persons who made the previous requests, even those now barred by the statute of limitations, from suing on that past decision, from bringing another request, then being denied, and then filing suit if denied. The effect of the Dial decision would be that any person making a future request will compare his or her situation to that of Mr. Dial.”
Starns asked Ross whether or not he could represent the commissioners in the event they acted contrary to his advice.
“First, I clarified that I did not advise them whether to vote yes or no. I advised them on how they should go about that decision, which was to develop standards to use on every change of zoning request, and then every person — whether Mr. Dial or some other individual — would all have their requests considered using the same standards. If the board was to be sued by someone based on the granting of Mr. Dial’s request to rezone, I would not be able to represent them as I would have a conflict of interest — that being that I advised them to do something prior to making that decision and they did not.
“However, I also stated this would not prevent me from representing them in every change of zoning case in the future, even if the person seeking it was arguing that approval of Mr. Dial’s request would support an approval in that future case.”