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February 20, 2013

Controversy over rezoned land continues

Ada council annexes property in 5-0 vote

Ada — The fight over landowner Nathan Dial’s property continued Tuesday when the Ada City Council voted to annex his land.

The council voted 5-0 to annex four parcels of land along Stonecipher Boulevard — including Dial’s property — into the city limits. All four tracts will be zoned as A-2 suburban agricultural.

The council’s vote reverses the Pontotoc County Commission’s decision earlier this month to rezone Dial’s property as a C-2 commercial district. The county’s decision cleared the way for Dial to build a part-time commercial auto repair shop on 2.45 acres of his property.

Dial’s attorney, Jack Cadenhead of Seminole, said Wednesday that he was disappointed but not shocked by the city’s decision.

“Of course, we don’t want the annexation, but we’re not surprised that it went through,” he said.

Cadenhead said that Dial won the real fight when the county commission voted to rezone his property from A-2 suburban to C-2 commercial. He said while Dial’s use of the land was not compatible with the A-2 classification, it was legal before the city annexed the property.

Consequently, he said, Dial’s property would be grandfathered in under the commercial classification.

Dial also told The Ada News on Wednesday that his land would still be treated as a commercial zone, despite the city’s decision.

“By law, it’s grandfathered in,” he said.

Ada’s planning and zoning coordinator, Roger Abbott, referred questions on that issue to the city’s attorney, Frank Stout. But Stout was out of his office Wednesday and was not available for comment.

Annexation

People flocked to Tuesday’s hearing to see whether the city council would decide to annex the four parcels of land into the city limits.

Cadenhead said he represented several landowners whose property lay within the territory that was being considered for annexation. He said before the council acted, it should consider the motives of the people who sought annexation — and who opposed Dial’s rezoning request.

“Think about the motive,” Cadenhead said. “We’re throwing all of these citizens of Pontotoc County who live out in the county, throwing all of them in the middle of this legal dispute to stop Mr. Dial. Is that serving the interests of the residents of the city of Ada?”

Other people said they thought officials should tackle the community’s current problems before expanding the city’s boundaries.

“There’s so much stuff that we need to be doing,” said Ada resident Bill Rice, who is seeking a seat on the city council. “Let’s take care of home first and then go get something else.”

But Mayor Greg McCortney said the city is already growing toward Stonecipher Boulevard, and officials should take advantage of any opportunity to expand.

“In all reality, annexation with the laws in the state of Oklahoma is very hard now,” McCortney said. “So if we’ve been given the opportunity, I’m going to want somebody to tell me why we wouldn’t want to take it.”

Councilman Guy Sewell said the property along Stonecipher Boulevard is already valuable to the city, and annexing it would only increase its worth.

“This annexation into the city is about managing the future growth of the city of Ada,” he said. “We’re growing south, folks. Look at the map.”

Some people wondered whether annexation would affect their right to use firearms or put up buildings on their property.

Dial said that annexation might prevent area landowners from doing what they wanted on their property.

“Sadly enough, I draw four families in with this that are going to get annexed that’s lived out there for years,” he said. “That we may or may not be able to go shoot our guns, or we may or may not be able to build an outbuilding that we want. So it’s sad that these folks got drug into it, and I want to apologize.”

The city’s attorney, Frank Stout, said he thought area landowners could still shoot off fireworks or put up buildings on their property, based on a cursory reading of the relevant law. But he added that landowners would need to consult their attorneys about that issue.

In a related development, the council approved a memorandum of understanding with the Chickasaw Nation concerning three of the annexed properties, which belong to the tribe.

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