Bob Stoops is a big deal, everybody knows that. For those who don't know, Bob Stoops has coached in 4 national championship games of the last decade, numerous other BCS bowls, and despite an abysmal record, no other coach is as consistently at the top echelon of college football. And also for those who didn't know, Bob Stoops is selling his home in NW Norman's ultra-posh Ashton Grove addition at NW 48th and building a new estate on 20 acres he owns off of NW 36th between Franklin Rd and Indian Hill Rd in Norman. That's called development.
But what he opposes is additional development of the stretch of NW 36th between Norman and Moore. He filed a legal protest with the Norman City Council against the development of 350 acres adjacent to the home he is developing in a rapidly-growing corridor between the built-up areas of Cleveland County's two largest cities. The 350 acre development, proposed by JJ Properties, will include a huge number of tract housing, as well as an assisted-living center, townhomes, and an elementary school. The elementary school, not yet funded, would be in the Moore Public School district (which is everything in Cleveland County north of Franklin Rd).
So I think this interesting story poses a wide array of questions. The first obviously shows us the undesirable nature of sprawl, but what's most notable is that each party involved is guilty of sprawl. Bob Stoops is guilty of sprawl in the first place because he's the one who CHOSE to purchase land in a rapidly growing area, develop a $3.3 million home (that's called development), and then squawk when other development occurs nearby. Does Stoops honestly have the right to be surprised that development is going to happen on land adjacent to his new home along NW 36th? He can't be serious. That's like going being seated at a restaurant and then storming out mad because the waiter tried to get you to buy an appetizer and a drink. Then the developer is obviously guilty of sprawl, and yeah I don't blame Stoops, I wouldn't want to build a $3.3 million estate and then have it surrounded by tract housing. Then the Norman City Council is guilty of sprawl because they have done nothing but encourage the sprawl of NW Norman, even with Cindy Rosenthal as mayor. Here, sprawl has led to conflicts between all three entities, and it will be up to the City Council and Rosenthal to resolve it. That will likely be a very contentious Council meeting.
Then I think it poses other questions. Is Stoops saying that only people who can afford a $3.3 million mansion have the right to build a home near him? Obviously that isn't right. Look at it this way, I consider everyone to be on equal footing before the law. So therefor everyone should have an equal right to participate in the sprawl of places like Norman and especially Edmond. But I won't even go into the socioeconomic limitations of sprawl in Edmond because that's opening a whole different can of worms. But suppose that if we're going to have sprawl and we're going to have major development, do we discriminate between $3.3 million mansions and tract homes that sell for $120,000? I think so. The only way out of this debate were if sprawl were verboten, but it's not. That way you could make the argument that the only thing that's being protested here is a high-density development, not the starting price of tract houses. And for all I'm concerned, the development sounds interesting..I'd like to hear more about these "townhomes" being proposed.
But when Stoops knowingly builds in a high-growth area and when the Norman City Council has already opened the floodgates for sprawl, that argument goes out the window. This now becomes socioeconomic, strictly. For Stoops this is about protecting the value of a $3.3 million investment. You have to wonder, why endanger such a huge investment like that in the first place? Why even build a $3.3 million investment in an area where the expectation HAS to be that tract housing will surround you within a matter of a few years. In fact if the development is at all, in anyway, above average, then you have already exceeded what I think the expectation has to be..where the bar is set, which is pretty low.
So in short, this is one way that sprawl can be ugly. And this isn't even looking 30 years down the road, this is looking at the short-term. It's incredible that if sprawl can even be ugly in the short-term in some instances, how we're still all gung-ho and excited to fill in those pastures!