Alert: City Council to consider


There is an important Tulsa City Council meeting tonight (Thursday, October 9), dealing with two matters of zoning and planning policy, which we've written about before. The meeting is at 6 p.m., in the Council chamber -- the two story building just north of City Hall.

First up is a zoning change and PUD at 71st & Harvard, for an F&M bank branch and office use at a residentially zoned vacant lot on the southwest corner. The proposed change is not in accord with the Comprehensive Plan, but the TMAPC approved it any way by a vote of 7-1. Dell Coutant, Mayor LaFortune's first new appointment to the TMAPC last summer, was the lone vote against.

The key issue for other Tulsa neighborhoods and homeowners is the precedent of introducing commercial development at an "arterial node" which is exclusively residential, and doing so despite current zoning and a Comprehensive Plan designation of "residential, low intensity". There are many similar "arterial nodes", where two major streets intersect but there is no commercial development -- 21st & Peoria, 31st & Peoria, 31st & Lewis, 41st & Lewis, and 61st & Harvard are a few examples. The precedent would be set to allow a commercial developer to buy and demolish existing homes and rezone for commercial development at these intersections.

Nearby property owners are filing a protest in accordance with a provision of the zoning code and state law. If owners of more than 50% of the land area of the lots within 300 feet of the targeted area protest the zoning change, the Council must have a 3/4 vote to approve, rather than a simple majority -- that means they will need seven votes to approve the change. This is an important safeguard for neighboring property owners against arbitrary and harmful zoning changes. There was an informal opinion from an attorney (Pat Boulden) in the City Attorney's office that protests from Guier Woods residents wouldn't count, because Guier Woods is platted as a single lot divided into condominiums. (Guier Woods is a gated community of single-family homes.) Only unanimous agreement from all Guier Woods owners would allow any of that area to count toward the 50% requirement.

Tuesday, at Council committee meeting, another attorney (Alan Jackere) from the City Attorney's office announced a reversal of their earlier, nonsensical interpretation. The new interpretation will count individual homes in Guier Woods separately. INCOG is still in the process of certifying the protest, and if they don't finish by tonight, Council action on the zoning change may be postponed.

Regardless, at tonight's meeting, the Council will consider a resolution in support of clarifying the zoning protest ordinance, so that a common-sense interpretation will be codified for future zoning issues. If the resolution passes, TMAPC would be directed to prepare a zoning code amendment spelling out this interpretation of this protection. Upon TMAPC's action, the amendment would then be taken up by the Council. Passing such an amendment will help close loopholes in this safeguard. Property owners concerned about protecting their property values should show up and express support for this proposal.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on October 9, 2003 7:59 AM.

ALERT: "Vision 2025" bond contracts on the agenda tomorrow was the previous entry in this blog.

County Commission update is the next entry in this blog.

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