Nov. 29 City Mtg.

Before I went to the City sponsored meeting, I attended the transportation meeting at City Hall @ 5p. The City is getting started on plans for new arteries, etc. in the City of Stillwater. C. H. Guernsey & Co. (OKC) have been hired as consultants. They have brought Wilbur Smith Associates into the planning. The planning is in the beginning stages. At this point, I will not give a run down regarding this entire meeting as it mainly was a presentation of CH Guernsey Co. on their considerations, meeting schedule, etc. (Then I had to leave to go to the City meeting.) My only comment would be that I hardly see how the City of Stillwater can do much planning until they KNOW what OSU is going to do. I’m in hopes that the taxpayers of Stillwater do not end up, once again, paying for streets and infrastructure of which OSU will later “acquire”. The City must also plan around the effects of OSU expansion. Remember, this is just in the stage of “begin to plan”.

City Meeting:
Wow, I hardly know where to start. There were so many good questions and the panel tried to answer them. The panel included: Attorneys, Lowell Barto and Mozelle Smith
Accountants, John Nelson and Mike Harden, Appraisers, Doug Emdee & Ted Smith and OSU president, Dr. Schmidly. Bud Lacy led the panel and discussion.

Bud stated that there is nothing the city commission has to offer in help to the citizens involved in the acquisition area. Property owners in that area are totally at the mercy of OSU athletic department. He stated he also had lots of questions OSU, only, can work with the owners and he hopes on a voluntary basis.

Question: Define Voluntary
Answer: none

Vice Mayor in attendance at the meeting said the only thing commissioners have ability to control is streets and infrastructure.

Bud said all streets belong to the public, closing the streets is up to the City.

Q: Can City do anything about replacement value?
A: Bud encouraged OSU to advocate proceedings on owner’s behalf

Q: Should we have an independent appraisal. Is it worthwhile
A: (Doug) As appraiser, they are bound by rules and laws. Cinnabar should have to follow these like anyone else. See what Cinnabar guidelines have been when get appraisal. Ask for a complete copy of appraisal. Although OSU is Cinnabar’s client and the appraisals are being done for them. Therefore, they are not obligated to give the owner a complete appraisal. If owner has appraisal done & pays for it, complete copy of appraisal would go to the owner.

Q:What is the cost of an appraisal?
A: (Doug) too many varibles to say. Probably $400-500 for appraisal on regular family dwelling.
(Ted) Commercial and more complicated appraisals probably would run between $2500-3000.

Q: If we wait and go through the eminent domain process will we get lower price?
A:(Lowell, I think) If go through eminent domain process, court will appoint a commissioner (appraisal commissioner) to appraise property and the court goes with that. If owner does not agree with that, owner can request a jury trial.

Q: Do people usually get more or less if they go to jury trial?
(Mozelle) Last trial on eminent domain she did, owner got more. However, that decision can be overturned. One could go to public records and see what OSU had awarded in previous purchases, BUT, since OSU is a public entity they don’t have to disclose that. One can usually tell price by documentary stamps on a deed. However, since OSU doesn’t have to pay taxes and is a public entity, there will be no documentary stamps, most likely. So, no way to find out.
(John) Look at comparable. Is comparable property sold under threat of eminent domain.

Q: Since Board of Regents mtg. has been moved to the Muskogee meeting, is some City commissioner going to be there to support us?
A: None really

Q: Only place to go so can discuss the Master Plan is to Lanston. Since discussion is allowed at Board of Regents meetings at END of meeting, voting would take place before discussion. Stated that Langston had been called and “unlike OSU” parking is available and FREE. We were told that if anyone did get a ticket, to take it to the police station and they would void it. Stressed that anyone who wanted to present concerns to Board of Regents MUST be at the Langston meeting, as well as the meeting in Muskogee.
A: (Schmidly) agreed best to go to Langston to present concerns
Q: Then will OSU provide buses to take us to Langston?
A: (Schmidly) Hmmmm, yes, right David? (? not sure name was David, think this was the transportation director)David: Sure. Schmidly: We’ll have 3 buses. It was decided we could meet at the OSU library annex (Old IGA) Main/Duck & Eskridge corner. We’ll leave @ 9:00 am Fri. Dec. 2.

Q: Can one public entity say “NO” to closing a street while another public entity says “YES”? One public entity against the other.
A: Bud. Absolutely we can stop the closing of a street. If the City says “No” to street closing, OSU could take it to court. That is what happened when Washington was closed due to the College library building. The case was taken all the way to the Supreme Court. Side comment from someone in the “audience”: However, they had already started the library building when the case went to court.

Q: I have had my 4 properties appraised today by Cinnabar. When will I get my appraisals?
A. (Think Doug) Oh, the appraisal would not go to you. It will go to the client, OSU. In turn, OSU can give you the appraisal if they so choose.
(Gary Clark) OSU will give the owner the complete appraisal when they make their offer.
He said the appraisal and offer should be given them within a few days of appraisal.
Q: May not have time to negotiate.
A: (Bud) You’ll have time to negotiate.

Q: Is eminent domain black & white? Can OSU comdem anything they want? There are many things OSU is planning to build, why is it important they not build somewhere else?
A: (Bud) Yes, OSU has lots of power to acquire land by condemnation, but one can take it to court to contest it. You would have to demonstate to the court that the land was not needed, that there were other alternatives. Is it really based on necessity. One has 30 days to file with the court to contest.

Q: Why is OSU doing this before it has been voted on by the Board of Regents?
A: (Schmidly) It has been approved. (indignation by audience). Well the plan has not been approved, but board of regents has approved the buying of property through voluntary negotiations.

Q: In eminent domain, entity has to own 80% before claiming eminet domain. When we get appraisal, will we have access to what property was used as comparable and the address of that property?
A: (I don’t recall any)….refer to above Q. regarding appraisals.

Q: Some elderly owners cannot be here. Studies show elderly die earlier when they are foced to leave their homes. Would OSU be facing federal prosecution it they do this?

Q: Bill Ridley (sp?) “almost a Dr.” dissertation on eminent domain. Studying how negotiators try to “work their deals”. Compared to World Trade Center negotions for property saying it was somewhat the same situation as ours. They were hesitant to exercise eminent domain. In the long run owners just want an equal deal. OSU needs to work a deal, put people in a better situation (living quarters) than they are now.

Q: Proposed a special vote by the citizens of the City on the acquisition of Hall of Fame.

Q: It is OSU’s right to exercise eminent domain, Board of Regents. Foundation cannot exercise eminent domain. It is NOT the Foundation’s money, but donors. Foundation can’t buy the land.
A: Once the donor gives money to the Foundation, it belongs to the foundation.

Q: (speaking for an out of state friend who owns property in the area) Is there a correlation between the appraisal and the assessed value?
A: (?) No

Q: Do we know what we are looking at in way of loss of revenue, streets, expense of new streets, to the schools?
A: (Bud) 85% of revnue comes from utility sales and taxes. OSU has said they will still get utilities from the City. It’s not a great loss.
(Mike Woods, Stw. school board) The school board doesn’t really know what the impact of this plan will be. They still have questions. However, he believes that OSU will cover any deficit to the schools. There are alternatives to the plan. Many things are planned and don’t come to be. As an example, architects design a lot of buildings that never get built.

Q: (dauther of homeowner N. of McElroy) Should we continue improvements to properties?
A: (one of the appraisers) Continue improvements to keep property maintained, anything to do with health and safety. Keep up the property in order to get a better price when OSU DOES purchase it. Don’t “over improve” for the neigborhood.

Q: (suggestion really): Encouraged everyone NOT to settle, if possible. Announced Homeowner’s mtg. Wed. Nov. 29, Hillcrest Baptist Church @ 8:45 pm.
A: N/A

Q: (owner of home West of Washington) What about our homes? We can’t sell, we can’t get loans.
A: none that I remember

Comment by Schmidly: We are trying to answer questions forthright. If we don’t know we will try to find out. Hall of Fame is closed due to construction zone. It will be closed 3-5 years while finishing North side of stadium and West end and underground parking. We don’t want to disrupt traffic more than we have to and are concerned with the safety of students.
(aside from someone in audience). When you started, you said it would be closed 1 season.
Schmidly. Completing the West end zone requires much longer & will take longer than the South & North sides of the stadium. We’ll work with the City on closing Hall of Fame.

Q: regarding land acquisition. What has happened? The plan is not what we heard before we got the letter from Benham (actually Cinnabar) offering to buy our property.
A: (Schmidly) We have scheduled 146 appraisals. 274 remain. More come in each day.

Q: OSU should at least wait until January so we could discuss issues.
A: (Schmidly) encouraged everyone to go to Langston meting to discuss if you want maximum imput. We will send a copy of tonight’s meeting to the Board of Regents in order that they can see the concerns. 40% south of McElroy and 20% overall to close by Jan. 4. These are the only things under contract right now. Let’s deal with some misperceptions: 1. That the plan only includes athletics. That is not the case. It includes a great deal for academics, students AND athletics. $420 million too be spent on the general university ($177 million on Athletics). This is all in the 20 year plan. Immediate construction is South of McElroy. We expect, believe we have funding to complete that area in the next 5 yrs. We have NO interest in properties West of Washington. Only in area south of McElroy in the near term. North of McElroy will not be needed in the next 3-5 yrs. OSU has had permission since 1977 to acquisition property North of Hall of Fame. In 2000, the decision to keep the stadium where it is, rather than build a new one West of town was made. To continue with planning, it couldn’t be done without land acquisition. 2. That OSU doesn’t care about the City. 3. That tax revenue loss would be $300,000.00. That is based on all property. It is really only $150,000.00. 4. That OSU has other properties and we don’t need this area. Yes, but not where we need it. 5. Intend to use eminent domain to acquire property. Our strongest desire is that this be done between a willing buyer and a willing seller. Some of the plan may not be constructed for 20 years. Have at least 3 yrs. to move. There is a tax advantage in being declared a part of eminent domain concerning capital gains. This plan will increase jobs, sales tax revenue. Our job is to keep up the reputation of OSU.

Q: (suggestion) Give property owners land and rebuild our neighborhood, put in streets, sewers and other infrastructure.
A: N/A

Q: (Board of Realtors president) stated that it is hard to find homes to fit into replacement value. What can be done about affordable housing?
A: (Schmidly) We are trying to see what’s available and what can be done about affordable housing. We are trying to get more information about that.

Q: (Mother of 4 children w/ 5 bedroom home) We didn’t know about the plan until
Nov. 5. It has been implied that scheduling an apprasial amounts to approval of the process. We schedule an appraisal because we were threatened. Cinnabar said that if we didn’t sell by Jun. 1, OSU would exercise eminent domain.
A: (Schmidly) We’d like to acquire property in 7-9 months. We have no money for construction North of McElroy, but are willing to buy from willing sellers. It will be up to 20 years before construction begins north of McElroy and west of Washington.

Q: (OSU student) Since the Athletic Village only services a small portion of the student body, many students need affordable housing. Most students will never use the Athletic Village. Finding affordable housing close to campus will be an impossibility. I now have been told that my lease runs out Jan. 1. I had to pay $800.00 per month to live in Bennet with 2 other people. I can’t afford that and still go to college. I can’t afford to live on campus. Three buildings, housing over 1000 students are being torn down.
A: (Schmidly) We are working on affordable housing.

Q: (comment) A 70 year old man in a wheelchair with a heart condition was led to believe that he had 6 months to pack up and find a place to go.
A: N/A

Comment: Gary Shutt contradicted himself twice in the Q&A notice that was in the Stillwater Newspress.

Comment: (think maybe Gary Clark) Donated money to acquire property could be used to purchase property in 20 year area to swap.

Comment: the Bonds were the representatives for property owners as stakeholders. They sold their 20% of the entire area to OSU.

Q: When were the 50 public forums held and how were they published to notify the public. How were stakeholders selected. Who were all the reps for the community, city, etc.
A: (Bud) will get information regarding when meetings were held, how published for the public and the minutes from those meetings from OSU. He will post them on the Stillwater website: Stillwater.org
(Benham rep) They weren’t really public meetings. Not required to be public. Not intended to have a citizen representation.

Comment: (statement) There are 45 homeowners in the affected area North of McElroy. I talked with Stillwater real estate people and there are only 30 homes on the market under $100,000.00 currently.

From Ann Williams. There were more comments, especially at the end of the meeting. I have summarized to the best of my ability in reading my notes & typing:-) Sorry if I left anyone out. I think I just “gave out” toward the end of the meeting.

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One Response to Nov. 29 City Mtg.

  1. Marion Agnew says:

    Excellent report; thank you! It says: “Comment: the Bonds were the representatives for property owners as stakeholders [as part of the process to develop the Master Plan]. They sold their 20% of the entire area to OSU.”

    My question: Because they sold their homes before the public was TRULY involved in the process (i.e. before anybody other than hand-picked “stakeholders” knew the university was doing a master plan), did they profit illegally from inside knowledge? Did OSU profit illegally from coercion — by discussing their all-encompassing right to simply take property, did they cow the Bonds into selling, and at a reduced price? In short, did they set in motion an unethical and possibly illegal process?

    I don’t know the Bonds from a hole in the ground. But it’s my impression that this grab wouldn’t be happening if the Administration and Regents didn’t think homeowners would roll over for it. Buying land from “stakeholders” to demonstrate compliance wouldn’t be an action that meets the ethical standards that the Board of Regents supposedly receives special training in.

    Also, what was the Bonds’ experience — did they receive a reasonable price? Did they need a capital gains loss?

    The comment (toward the end) from the representative from Benham is also illustrative: developing the plan was not intended to be a public process. It’s an honest statement, at least. But it’s a direct contradiction of what Schmidly is trying to get people to believe — that it’s been a transparent process with extensive “stakeholder” interaction and lots of opportunity for involvement. Someone’s is not telling the truth.

    Also, my father was reading to me from a handout. It distinguished between proposed spending for “athletic” programs and for “non-athletic” programs. Let’s not confuse “non-athletic” programs with “academic” programs. Schmidly is lumping the “multimodal transportation facility” — what you and I might call a “parking garage and bus station” — with spending on academic programs.

    The parking garage is not part of this land grab, and neither is the new classroom building. OSU could build those and still back out of this athletics Boone-doggle gracefully.

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