TMAPC hearing on Board of Adjustment

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Mark your calendars. The City of Tulsa Board of Adjustment's (BoA) role in the zoning process will be up for discussion and a public hearing before the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission (TMAPC), a week from today, Wednesday, December 15, at 1:30 p.m., in the City Council chamber.

This hearing was instigated by Councilor Jim Mautino, who is concerned about the impact of some BoA decisions on homeowners who cannot afford to make an appeal through the courts. He believes the City Council should be the first line of appeal on BoA decisions. The Council didn't agree to that point but did agree that the issue deserves scrutiny, and they voted to direct the TMAPC to study the issue and make recommendations.

While the BoA is described as "quasi-judicial" -- applying the law, not making it -- the zoning code gives the BoA broad discretion to decide whether a proposed variance or special exception will be injurious to the interests of nearby property owners. If you have a BoA horror story, a case where City Council review of a BoA decision would have been helpful, come prepared to talk about it, with as many specifics as possible. It may be that for certain circumstances where special exceptions are permitted, City Council review is appropriate.

I believe the root problem is that Tulsa's land use planning system is broken, that it doesn't serve developers or homeowners, that it "protects" against threats that aren't threats at all, throws obstacles in the way of innovative approaches to development, while allowing practices that really do harm property values and the quality of life, and that it isn't producing a livable and sustainable community. We may still need to patch the system for the time being, but we need to have an honest and open conversation, with everyone around the table, having checked their cherished assumptions at the door, about a better system to replace the one we've got.

In the meantime, be there next Wednesday and be heard.

(Here, here, and here are earlier entries on the topic.)

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on December 8, 2004 1:02 AM.

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