By Robert Flippo
Mayor Valerie Thomerson recently sat down with County Commissioner Jack Stewart to discuss an alternative to the proposed Metropolitan Area Planning Commission (MAPC) which had gone before the Canadian County Commissioners a few weeks ago.
A MAPC is a joint commission between a city and the county government meant to help cities plan for future growth by giving cities limited power concerning areas outside of city borders. A number of Oklahoma cities have a MAPC including, Enid, Bartlesville, and Claremore.
The MAPC that went before the commission was a county-wide planning commission which any city in Canadian County could have joined. The MAPC would allow cities to work with the county to make certain zoning decisions within three miles of their city limits.
The County Commissioners held a public hearing on the matter which received much spirited debate from proponents and opponents alike. The proponents were primarily residents of Piedmont and the opponents were largely residents of the unincorporated land within three miles of Piedmont’s city limits.
Commissioner Phil Carson, whose district includes Piedmont, supported the creation of the MAPC. Commissioners Jack Stewart and David Anderson had reservations, citing a worry that decisions made to benefit Piedmont might go against the wishes of other residents of Canadian County.
In her meeting with Stewart, Thomerson addressed these concerns by proposing a MAPC covering a limited area and only in regards to a specific type of development. The MAPC would cover the area west of the city between Azalea NW and Memorial Road extending to Manning Road. The only type of development under the MAPC jurisdiction would be industrial development.
In addition to limiting the scope of the MAPC so that it would only affect the area around Piedmont, Thomerson also suggested the MAPC be renewed on an annual basis. This would give city officials the opportunity every year to decide if they wish to continue with the MAPC.
Thomerson said a MAPC is about ensuring Piedmont has the ability to grow.
“We’ve got to think of where we want to be in thirty or fifty years,” Thomerson said. “Piedmont could very well be the next Plano or Frisco, TX.”
Thomerson said that at this point, the new MAPC idea is still in its early stages; however, she is optimistic the commissioners will respond more favorably to the limited MAPC.
If the idea gains support, the next move will be to bring it before the City Council and begin talks with the county in earnest.