Metropolis of Norman to problem OTA at Oklahoma Supreme Court docket

Aug. 18—Editor’s word: This story has been up to date to incorporate that Commissioner Darry Stacy has joined a lawsuit in opposition to the OTA in his particular person capability and town is submitting a authorized problem, not a lawsuit, to the OTA’s utility for bond validation.

Citing council enter, the Metropolis of Norman has employed an out of doors regulation agency to take authorized motion in opposition to the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, an official memo from town lawyer signifies.

OTA intends to construct two new toll roads in Norman, which metropolis officers say caught them without warning after the company’s announcement Feb. 22.

The 15-year, $5 billion ACCESS plan proposes a turnpike in east Norman south from Interstate 40 by the Lake Thunderbird Watershed to Purcell, and a second alongside Indian Hills Street.

The Transcript obtained the e-mail memo from Ward 5 Rarchar Tortorello from Metropolis Lawyer Kathryn Walker to all councilors dated August 11. Town employed a regulation agency in June, nevertheless it didn’t state the identify.

“Based mostly on Council’s suggestions in late June, we have been employed outdoors counsel to judge the potential of authorized motion in July,” Walker’s e-mail reads. “Given the submitting on the Supreme Court docket this week, we met with them right this moment to debate technique; I anticipate a submitting on the Metropolis’s behalf early subsequent week within the Supreme Court docket case.”

The Oklahoma Supreme Court docket will resolve if the company’s use of income bonds will likely be legitimate at an upcoming listening to.

Walker clarified to the Transcript late Thursday town intends to problem OTA’s utility for bond validation.

“We anticipate submitting one thing on the Metropolis’s behalf in that case, not a separate lawsuit,” she stated in an e-mail to the publication.

Walker declined to reveal the particular authorized submitting, however stated it needed to do with “procedural points.”

“A separate lawsuit can be way more intensive and costly, it might contain discovery, deposits, and so on,” she stated in a textual content. “We’re specializing in the procedural components that we consider will be addressed inside the Supreme Court docket case that has already been filed.”

Town employed Spence Fane regulation agency and has not but acquired a invoice, Walker stated.

Whereas Tortorello had not seen a draft of town’s submitting, he stated town shares his considerations about stormwater runoff air pollution of the watershed, the potential menace to wildlife corridors for endangered species and different environmental impacts.

He additionally famous that town and the varsity district stand to lose gross sales tax and advert valorem income as a result of OTA will buy properties alongside the proposed route which is able to take it off the tax rolls and doubtlessly displace residents outdoors Norman to buy elsewhere.

“Hopefully town will embody the lack of advert valorem of their lawsuit, as a result of that holds equal weight to the setting within the watershed and Lake Thunderbird,” Tortorello stated.

County helps authorized motion

Tortorello spoke to Cleveland County Commissioners throughout its common assembly two weeks in the past, and oppositional group Pike Off OTA urged its members to petition them to hitch the lawsuit in a latest e-newsletter.

District 2 Commissioner Darry Stacy stated he shared considerations relating to the watershed because the county explores authorized motion.

“I’ve been exploring choices by session with Assistant District Lawyer Jim Robertson of the District 21 District Lawyer’s Workplace Civil Division,” Stacy stated in a ready assertion. “I’ve requested him to contact the Metropolis of Norman to determine if the Cleveland County Board of County Commissioners has the flexibility to hitch the present Metropolis of Norman lawsuit or if impartial authorized actions will must be taken.

“I’ll assist no matter authorized actions are crucial to guard the pursuits of our residents.”

Stacy joined a lawsuit in opposition to the OTA, outdoors his capability as commissioner, that contends the company violated the open assembly act.

District 3 Harold Haralson didn’t return a request for remark.

District 1 Rod Cleveland was skeptical {that a} authorized motion from the county can be potential and regretted earlier efforts had been stymied.

“I’m delicate to the residents’ considerations which can be impacted by the OTA announcement to increase the Kickapoo Turnpike by Cleveland County,” Cleveland stated in a ready assertion. “I offered an engineering contract earlier than the Cleveland County Board of Commissioners and the Cleveland County Industrial Authority to carry out a feasibility, environmental and financial affect research for a proposed new street becoming a member of I-35 and the Kickapoo Spur. I didn’t get a second for my movement.

“This could have given invaluable info by the native authorities on whether or not the route was warranted and the position of the route. Cleveland County doesn’t have zoning in unincorporated Cleveland County and doesn’t have any County land that could be impacted.

“I’ve been suggested that it isn’t customary for the County to tackle a authorized motion for personal residents.”

The fee unanimously authorised a decision of opposition to the turnpikes in a earlier assembly, as did the council.

Pike Off declared its contact marketing campaign to the council a victory given town’s intent to file a lawsuit.

“Superior work final week,” its e-newsletter reads. “Metropolis Council was blown away by the variety of calls and emails, and has confirmed they anticipate motion this week.”

Walker stated her memo was designed to supply a response to the quite a few residents who contacted the council.

Lawsuits piling up

If filed, town’s authorized submitting can be the third to be court docket problem taken up this 12 months.

Two lawsuits filed in Could contend OTA has violated the state’s open assembly act, violated correct bond process and that the east Norman turnpike is illegal in line with state statute.

A lawsuit contended that the east Norman toll street was not said in a 1987 authorization invoice which included quite a few different turnpike initiatives and that the OTA was certain by state regulation to have issued one bond for all its previous and proposed toll roads.

Within the second lawsuit relating to the open assembly act violations, a decide dominated in opposition to the OTA’s movement to dismiss this week after the company argued that each one authorized challenges are to be heard by the Oklahoma Supreme Court docket.

The lawsuit accused the company of insufficiently stating its plans to construct toll roads in Norman on its January and February agendas.

A request for remark to reveal the identify of the regulation agency and value to town was not instantly returned Thursday.

OTA spokeswoman Brenda Perry stated as a result of authorized motion had not but been filed, the company couldn’t provide remark.

Mindy Wooden covers Metropolis Corridor information and notable court docket instances for The Transcript. Attain her at [email protected] or 405-416-4420.