The Guthrie city council approved to zone 77 acres of City property in hopes of luring businesses to town in the future. While it was an unanimous council vote, the Planning Commission did not approve along with nearby residents.
The land, often referred to as the “80 acres” is located to the northeast of the intersection of College Ave. and Midwest Blvd.
The land was purchased by the City in 2000 with an industrial park in mind. At that time and until Tuesday night’s meeting, the property was never zoned.
With the 5-0 council vote, the property will be zoned to I-1 (Restricted Manufacturing and Warehouse District).
The City will be developing the property to bring the property to a “shovel-ready” industrial park. The desire is to subdivide the property into 12 industrial lots.
The surrounding land uses are primarily large-lot residential developments. The areas surrounding the subject parcel are within the County and do not have any zoning classifications. The approved zoning district requires all principal uses to be within a building eliminating any adverse effects to the surrounding property.
Last month at the Planning Commission meeting, commissioners voted 3-1 against the zoning proposal. Kris Bryant, Don McBride and Abe Ghassempour voted against, while Joe Chappell abstained from the vote.
The Planning Commission is a recommending body for the council.
At both meetings, citizens who live nearby shared their concerns of the possible growth near their homes.
“We moved to the country for peace and quiet. Away from the traffic, lights an noise,” Sherri Longnecker told the commissioners. “We are very against any complex or business being built on the property.
She added, “we will lose our country living.”
In the past two decades, the land has been discussed at adding a sports complex, a National Guard facility and a food manufacturing plant among others.
Nearby resident Jody Ahrnsbrak raised several questions, including funding of the project.
“There is no infrastructure on this land. That is a cost the City will have to incur first, Ahrnsbrak said. “Do you all have so much money that your going to throw it towards infrastructure and they may come,” she asked the council.
Other concerns shared by residents, included additional traffic, noise and property values.
Bryant, chairman of the Planning Commission, said the moved to an industrial park is a big leap.
“From a land use perspective, going from a rural, agriculture to a light industrial is a pretty big jump.
He later questioned the budget of the project.
“What kind of investment do we have to make up front in order to build it and possibly attract new business,” Bryant told the council members on Tuesday. “There are many communities around the country of our size that have had very unsuccessful attempts to build an industrial park. They spent millions of dollars bringing in utilities and waiting for businesses to arrive and it doesn’t happen. Those are our taxpayer dollars.”