71st & Harvard on the Council agenda tonight


I received word yesterday that the formal protest filed by property owners in the 71st & Harvard area has been rejected as insufficient by INCOG staff, and so a super-majority of the council will not be required to approve the rezoning of the southwest corner of 71st & Harvard. The rezoning case will be before the City Council tomorrow night (Thursday, October 30, 6 p.m.). Neighborhood leaders from across the city should turn out to support our fellow homeowners. You should also e-mail or phone your councilor (distX@tulsacouncil.org, 596-192X, where X is the district number) and register your opposition. You can also e-mail the council secretary at wshott@tulsacouncil.org to send a message to all nine councilors. The meeting will be in the Council chambers, starting at 6 p.m. (The location is marked as number 2 on this map of the Civic Center.)

(Click here, here, here, and here for earlier articles on the rezoning, with links to the application and the planning commission minutes.)

The proposed zoning change is not in accordance with the Comprehensive Plan and sets a precedent for commercial development at totally residential arterial nodes. This precedent could be applied at Midtown intersections like 21st & Peoria, 31st & Peoria, 31st & Lewis, 41st & Lewis. The change also breaks a promise made to area residents when they dropped their lawsuit against the six-laning of 71st Street.

State law and city ordinance provide a safeguard against arbitrary zoning changes. If owners of at least 50% of the lots within 300 feet sign a protest against the change, it requires a 3/4 vote of the council to approve it. That means there must be seven yes votes (abstentions count as if they were votes against).

The neighborhoods near the proposed change have done an excellent job of mobilizing and secured the necessary signatures, but INCOG and the City of Tulsa legal department have been working equally hard to find any technicality to disallow the protest. Today, INCOG land development staffers Wayne Alberty and Jim Dunlap went through the protest petitions and disallowed most of them with the encouragement of Alan Jackere, an attorney for the City of Tulsa. Here are a couple of the reasons used to disallow a protest:

* The property is jointly owned by husband and wife, but only one spouse signed. In one case, the husband's name is still on the deed, but has been dead for several years. That protest was disallowed.

* The property is owned by a trust (a means of avoiding probate), and the owner signed his name, but failed to sign it with the word "trustee".

The homeowners learned that these technicalities might be used and so they filed an amended petition, correcting any nit the lawyers might wish to pick. The amended petition was disallowed on the grounds that it was not filed before the initial TMAPC hearing (back on August 27), but there was a difference of opinion between two City lawyers, with Patrick Boulden saying the petition could be filed prior to the City Council hearing, and Alan Jackere saying it had to be filed prior to the initial TMAPC hearing. The wording in the ordinance (Title 42, Section 1703 E) is very clear that the deadline is three days before the City Council's public hearing.

I am informed that this provision has never been successfully used -- they always find a technicality for rejecting the protest.

So now the question is before the Council. Unfortunately, most of the City Councilors -- Patrick, Baker, Justis, Sullivan, Christiansen, and Neal -- received at least $1,000 in campaign contributions from F&M Bank Board members, and Christiansen is the only one of those six who opposes F&M's rezoning application. (Christiansen has constituents who would be affected by the rezoning, which may explain why he is opposing it despite the contributions.) The other five who got F&M money are said to support the rezoning, but we will find out for sure tonight.

Of the three who did not get funds from F&M -- Medlock, Roop, and Williams -- Medlock has been very supportive of the neighborhoods, working to ensure fair treatment of their protest petition, and leading the opposition to the change. Roop and Williams are also reported to oppose the change.

So it appears that Christiansen, Medlock, Roop, and Williams will oppose the rezoning -- if one more councilor would support the neighborhood, or even abstain, the precedent-setting rezoning would fail.

So please e-mail or phone your councilor, and if possible show up to speak in support of the neighborhood.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on October 30, 2003 9:19 AM.

71st & Harvard zoning update was the previous entry in this blog.

71st and Harvard rezoning approved is the next entry in this blog.

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