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Residents near Classen Circle fighting to keep businesses from flattening homes

OKLAHOMA CITY - A community is pushing back against encroaching businesses and their parking lots into residential areas.

A future Braum's that could replace businesses inside the Donnay Building are just an example of the unwanted change, and the circumstances are disturbing to neighbors.

Businesses are buying up and razing homes along N. Western Avenue, and using the space to expand their businesses.

Jon Coussens lives in the neighborhood surrounding N. Western. He's the vice president of the neighborhood association, and he's watched the changes happening over time.

It's particularly troubling for him after the city spent thousands improve businesses and the homes surrounding them, and encouraging people to walk along the street.

"Within half a block of here we have four properties that were once wonderful homes for people to live in an area that's accustomed to having businesses and residents living in harmony," Coussens said.

The bank located on Western and 49th took down two homes to make room for itself.

Across the street, the dry cleaner cleared out the house behind it and uses the land as a parking lot, despite an application with plans to use it otherwise.

And at the same corner, the Chesapeake Energy bought a home and flattened it to expand its property. That land still sits as an empty lot.

Meanwhile, a lounge located on Western is working to purchase the home behind it to replace it with a parking lot.

It's not just the transformation that's worrisome for some, but the way businesses go about doing it.

"It's a roundabout way," said Ward 2 councilman Ed Shadid. "It's disingenuous."

Shadid said companies will buy a home adjacent to their business and flatten it.

"Then six months, a year later, coming to the city and saying there's an empty lot here, we'd like to turn it into surface parking lot," Shadid said, "encroaching into the neighborhoods with surface parking lots."

He said he wants to see City Council come together and extend historic districts to areas like this for protection.

"You'd have to express your intent," he said. "Why are you tearing down these structures? And that would have to go through a process."

He said he would also like to see buildings, like the Donnay Building, named historic structures.