A request by the Port of Catoosa for a zoning change in order to add a new business to its industrial park was denied by the county Planning Commission Thursday.

After hearing much opposition from neighbors of the Riverview Industrial Park, located along Highway 266 east of the Port of Catoosa, the City of Claremore-Rogers County Metropolitan Area Planning Commission board voted 5-1 to deny the zoning request.

According to Dick Vogt, the Port’s deputy director, the request to change the zoning from the lighter industrial classification I-1 to a heavier industrial classification I-3 would allow construction of a metal fabrication facility on the property that parallels 266.

Acting Planning Commission Director Megan DeLozier said the “buffer zone,” which is zoned I-1 (light industrial), was zoned in 1974. “There were many protestors then,” she said, “and they required a 330-foot buffer zone.”

Neighbors told the commission they were against changing any part of the I-1 zoning to mediumor heavy industrial, because, “that’s bringing that industrial into the buffer zone.”

Board member Brian Green called the buffer zone “strange,” but added that it could also be used for the current zoning.

“The land use is already established — it is for industrial,” Green told the packed audience Thursday. “They are simply asking for the line to be moved up.”

According to Green, I-1 zoning allows a business owner to utilize the space for parking lots or storage, among other things.

“It is very likely that manufacturing of some sort will be in this area,” Green said. “This area is not intended to be left as an open, unused area. It was not to be left as a blank space. It can be used for some industrial business.”

“It’s a transition area buffer,” board member Don Gray said. “People moving into that area understood that.”

Most of the concerns from the neighbors addressed the existing 330-foot buffer zone, which they would like to see stay. However, traffic concerns and noise and air pollution were also addressed by these residents.

“Highway 266 is the most dangerous highway because of the accidents that happen there,” Cloyd Parrish, resident of that area said. “About 20 accidents have happened on 266 in the last two years. I believe the rezoning will add to the problem.”

Parrish also addressed some of the current noise and air pollution issues residents are concerned about now.

Planning commission board members said they understood the concerns about the traffic situations and the pollution issues, but that those concerns were out of the scope of the zoning request.

“That is something you will have to take up with the Port or the business owner,” Green said.

Even though the zoning request was denied, Vogt said the business will most likely locate to that location anyway.

“Denial of the application will not necessarily squelch the deal,” Vogt said. “The buyer may use the area for parking or other uses that are allowed through I-1.”

Zoning denials by the Planning Commission may be appealed to the County Commission.