City of Broken Arrow eyeing potential revisions to NOS overlay district


By John Dobberstein, Editor

The Broken Arrow Planning Commission has approved preliminary plans for a proposed coffee and ice cream shop in New Orleans Square.

It’s the first new building plan to come under the New Orleans Square overlay district, which are guidelines put in place by the city to encourage a consistent design and building standards for redevelopment in New Orleans Square (NOS).

Plans for the 5,000-square-foot development, half of which would be leased first for the coffee shop dubbed “New Orleans Square Coffee,” will go before the City Council for review Oct. 18. The planning commission voted 4-1 to advance the project forward.

But the project received a lot of scrutiny, as the overlay district’s rigid requirements created some challenges. The NOS overlay district was engineered by consultant Kimely-Horn and reviewed and approved by the NOS advisory committee and City Council.

The developer, Jacob Lamb, requested a lot split for the project because he was faced with an odd-shaped parcel. The overlay district ordains that lot splits can’t be done in a way that creates a non-compliant lot.

The coffee shop’s frontage along Elm Place would be 29 feet, significantly shorter than the overlay district’s required 125 feet. So city staff recommended a planned-unit development (PUD) be utilized for the project to work around those requirements.

Planning Commission member Robert Goranson, who voted against the lot split, said he was concerned about setting an unhelpful precedent by making exceptions to the overlay district so early.

According to Larry Curtis, director of the city’s Community Development Department, lot sizes and shapes with the current infrastructure at NOS are creating challenges, which were expected. The coffee shop meets nearly all other aspects of the overlay district except the lot frontage, he noted.

Curtis revealed at the most recent Planning Commission meeting that a number of interested developers have tried to utilize the overlay district but “had to walk away because it wouldn’t work for the developments they were interested in.”

City staff are “diligently” going through the overlay district’s guidelines, he said, to determine where it can be updated so the rules are “less restrictive on minimums and maximums.”

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