OWASSO, Okla. - Residents call for two Owasso councilors to resign after they voted against plans for three development projects.
The three projects are the Maple Glen III development, a Super 8 motel and the Small Animal Hospital of Owasso.
All three projects came before the city council Tuesday. The developers of each project asked councilors to approve their final land plans, which would allow the projects to go forward.
None of the projects received enough votes to win approval.
Mayor Doug Bonebrake was not present to vote, leaving the four remaining council members to consider the projects.
Two councilors supported the Maple III development and motel while two opposed the plan. One councilor voted in favor of the animal hospital, one abstained and two others voted against the measure.
The two councilors who voted against the projects are Patrick Ross and Charlie Brown.
In an email to 2NEWS, Brown said he voted against the projects out of concern over the relationship Owasso City Manager Rodney Ray has with Owasso Land Trust.
Owasso Land Trust is involved with the Maple Glenn III project and sold property to individuals connected to the other two projects in recent years.
According to Brown, Owasso Land Trust is also the landlord of a flower shop business owned by Ray.
According to a letter sent from the property manager to Ray, his business owed $41,755.92 for the months of September 2011 through February 2013.
At a special council meeting on Friday, Ray told 2News he resolved all of his financial issues.
"We have some folks who are upset at losing the election and so they're taking it out on anybody they can, and if you're a friend of Rodney's you end up having to pay for it apparently," said Ray.
Ray's response appears to be a dig at members of the Owasso Taxpayer Alliance.
The alliance's president, J.B. Alexander, lost a close race for Owasso mayor recently, and has been a vocal critic of the city manager.
Alexander attended Friday's special meeting and spoke about why he supports efforts by Ross and Brown to get answers from the city manager.
."I think that if Mr. Ray were to clarify his personal financial dealings with OLT, to the satisfaction of Councilors Brown and Ross, we would without a doubt support those projects."
Brown said Ray did not provide him with clear evidence that lease payments to Owasso Land Trust on behalf of his family's business were resolved.
Brown said Ray's lack of response gave him great concern, especially since he said Owasso Land Trust is connected to the Maple III development, a matter that was coming up before the council.
"At that point, I was left wondering what other undisclosed matters there might be with other parties seeking new developments, which is why I voted against any further developments," Brown said.
Brown did not attend Friday's special meeting because he was out of town.
Ross attended but sat quiet throughout the meeting and listened to the speakers.
Many residents who are upset the projects are on hold addressed councilors at the meeting on Friday.
Shawn Keiss started a petition calling for Ross and Brown to resign.
"It was an abuse of power. You know, they didn't vote on the merit of the issues. They took a political grandstanding opportunity," said Keiss.
Keiss also noted the projects passed all the necessary review processes the city put in place.
The city attorney said because of the council's action, the earliest the projects could move forward is when a new council is seated in May. Otherwise, councilors will not be able to move the projects forward for six months.
The city attorney also said there are a "variety of legal issues" that could be raised because the projects were denied.
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