Haughty attorney presentations, outbursts of mockery and accusations of bribery were among the highlights of Thursday’s public hearing of Third Garden Park’s re-application to convert , a retirement community on Flintlock Road, into an all-ages affordable housing mobile home park.
At one point, Richard Freedman, a partner in Third Garden Park, stood up and yelled at the group of Stonegate Village residents and members of the public for their belittling comments about the company’s efforts to market the development.
Order was restored quickly and Brendan Shain, an attorney representing Third Garden Park, continued with his explanation of the new application.
The original intentions for Stonegate Village was to build 80 lots on the property, which is just less than 20 acres, but the applicants are now proposing to divide up the property into separate lots and sell 22 of the homes to people of all ages.
The balance of the remaining 58 sites will be reserved for people who are 55 years old or older.
“On paper it looks good but reality it’s no good,” said Larry Helfrich, a Stonegate Village resident.
The community center would be shared with children and residents of the all-ages development, which caused great concern among some Stonegate Village residents.
“They should build a fence as high as the sky to keep those kids on the other side,” said one resident.
Another countered and said the lease states that fences higher than 3-feet are prohibited.
“So what does our lease mean? We should use it for toilet paper,” said another.
Accusations of Bribery
Then four residents stood up and denied the information submitted by Third Garden Park’s attorneys in a . The document implied or stated that some residents accepted money in exchange for their support of lifting the age restriction.
“We never have and have no intention and have not received, signed or agreed to anything like that,” said Laurie Lavoie. “This document is false and in my opinion this is not a legal document.”
Some conversation took place over the intention of the document, and although the documents were signed, the four residents denied knowledge of the documents or at least, its meaning, which also wasn’t clear to anyone in the room nor was it explained right then.
“Was it a survey or was it a signed offer and acceptance between the respondents,” asked Vince Whittle, of the Zoning Commission.
“At no time did I take a bribe of $5,000. This is an example of corporate greed on the backs of seniors,” said resident Diane Bassler.
People in the audience murmured that it was a bribe and Zoning Commission Chair Eric Treaster said the language of the document was heavy with double-negatives.
Shain didn’t have all the documentation on hand to explain it but all agreed that no money had been exchanged.
“We can’t scale back the proposal and do all the conditions, that’s simply not viable,” said Shain.
Freedman said that the collected verbiage of Treaster’s conditions was cost prohibitive and, “it would be pretty difficult to agree with the bulk of those.”
“You insist that home that are designed for Oklahoma be permitted,” said Treaster to Attorney Shain. “But I won’t allow that.”
Treaster was referring to mobile homes that do not have weatherized features like slanted roofs and vinyl siding.
Freedman said some things are non-negotiable:
- The developer cannot be required to offer more than seven affordable housing units in the all-ages portion.
- He said some of the aesthetic criteria is extremely expensive to comply with. He said the required roof pitch and extending the vinyl skirting down to the ground, for example, adds up to $10,000 per unit.
Vince Whittle cited a study that indicated that developments that are successful have invested in amenities.
Bassler said she’d like the Commission to maintain the community that she invested in.
Shain told members of the Zoning Commission that it they are permitted to approve the application and that all the breached leases would be a civil matter and that the Commission shouldn’t worry about it.
Timothy Bates, an attorney representing residents of Stonegate Village, said that the Commission should respect the legal contracts of the residents who invested in a developing community of people over the age of 55.
The 2-hour meeting came down to either side’s willingness to compromise on the roof pitch of the units sold in the all-ages community and the presence of children in the age-restricted portion.
The public hearing will continue on Thursday, July 26.