EDMOND, Okla. - “This is a prime piece of natural green space behind us. And, we just want to do everything we can to keep it that way,” said Bryan Coyer.
Coyer lives in the Smiling Hill addition near 33rd and Bryant in Edmond.
His home backs up to a peaceful green belt, one he thought would always be there.
The six acres used to be owned by Edmond’s First Baptist Church.
The church sits on the property closer to the intersection.
But, they weren’t using the six acres along the back of the property, so they made the decision to sell it to a developer who wants to build single family homes.
“The residents and ourselves included feel like this promise has been broken,” Coyer said.
Long time residents in Smiling Hill said church officials made a promise 25 years ago.
“The church representatives came to every house along this street and to the street next to us, Banner, and promised every resident, every homeowner that this land behind us would never be changed,” Coyer said.
“There’s no documentation of that, that that was ever said or ever made. I’ve even looked back through our business meeting dates,” said current pastor, Dr. Blake Gideon.
Gideon said he was unaware of any supposed agreements until after the church had entered into a contract.
Once he found out, he tried to appease the neighbors.
“And, I told our neighbors, I said, you know what, I’m going to do everything I can to get us out of this contract,” Gideon said.
But, the developer would not let the church out of the contract.
“We love our neighbors, and we would love to have a great relationship with them. I’m sorry that this has happened. I’m sorry that they feel hurt. But, we have not been deceptive,” Gideon said.
Coyer and other Smiling Hill residents went to the Edmond city council Monday night, asking them to close 34th street.
That road dead ends into the property and is the developer’s only point of access.
The city voted not to close the street.
But, the residents said they will continue their fight to preserve one of the rare green spaces in Edmond.