Bail bonds next to the Girl Scout office?


It's hard to imagine the point of having a bail bond office seven or eight miles away from the county courthouse and jail, but ABC Bail Bonds is asking to rezone a duplex on the edge of the Lewis Crest neighborhood at 51st and Atlanta, right across from the regional Girl Scouts headquarters. Although the home is not yet approved for the new use, word is that the business is already up and running 24/7.

Imagine having a next door to you a 24 hour business whose client base is people who have run afoul of the law. (Girl Scouts selling cookies rarely need to be bailed out of jail.) Worse yet, the INCOG staff has recommended approval of the zoning change on the grounds that it is in accordance with "trends" in the area. Neighbors see a connection with the strip club going in at 51st & Harvard and wonder if businesses catering to a similar clientele will fill in along 51st Street. That area has been relatively quiet, with some office buildings replacing homes, compatible with the neighborhood, and nothing so far like a bail bonds office. Despite the proximity to I-44, the locations of entrances and exits on that stretch of road makes 51st from Lewis to Delaware inconvenient to easy-on, easy-off traffic, but a concentration of businesses targeting freeway traffic could change all that.

By the way, it's not just homeowners who are concerned. Weinkaupf Petroleum, which has an office across the street from the proposed location, has written the TMAPC protesting the zoning change

This points up the need to review our 20-year-old Comprehensive Plan, which long ago ceased being either comprehensive or a plan. The review needs to be on a neighborhood by neighborhood basis, and those who have already invested in that neighborhood should have a strong voice in determining its future direction.

During the build-up to Vision 2025, I proposed a neighborhood assessment process which was well-received by Mayor LaFortune and others. This process was used by Kansas City, Missouri. An assessment was done for every neighborhood in the city, centered around a meeting bringing together homeowners, businesses, and other neighborhood stakeholders. At this meeting, bolstered by weeks of research by urban development staff, a neighborhood identifies the basic condition of the neighborhood, what needs to change, what qualities and features need to be preserved, and how they would like to see the neighborhood evolve in the future. Specific improvements are identified -- projects that can be tackled by homeowners, projects that will need outside private help, and projects that need government involvement. In Kansas City, this program took four years and $2 million to complete, and they didn't use a tax increase to pay for it -- it was integrated into the normal way they do business. Supposedly some of the $30 million "downtowns and neighborhoods" project money will pay for this program in the City of Tulsa, but we shall see.

In the meantime, we need to support the Lewis Crest neighborhood as they fight this rezoning attempt, which comes before the TMAPC today at 1:30, although there has been a request to postpone ("continue") the hearing until two weeks later, which is likely to be granted. If the TMAPC approves, the request will go to the City Council. E-mail your city councilor, and e-mail the TMAPC care of and express your concern. Remember -- some day it could be your neighborhood.

UPDATE (1/27/2003): I understand that the zoning application was rejected by the TMAPC.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on January 21, 2004 12:00 PM.

Homeowners for Fair Zoning meet tonight was the previous entry in this blog.

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