HB 2559: Attacking local control of zoning

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There's a bill making its way through the Oklahoma Legislature which would take away a degree of local control over land-use regulation.

HB 2559 appears to represent a new line of attack by Tulsa's development lobby, which lost control of the City Council in 2004, failed in their attempt to regain control by means of the recall of Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino in 2005, and failed to regain control in this year's election.

The previous Council wasn't anti-growth or anti-development, nor is the new Council, but they were and are devoted to making the land-use process fair to all concerned, homeowners as well as developers, and to putting Tulsa's interests first, ahead of the suburbs. This is frustrating to the development lobby, which was used to getting its way all the time. Since they can't control local officials any more, they are using allies in the State Legislature to limit, restrict, and interfere with the ability of local officials to set zoning policy.

HB 2559 would require any appeals from a Board of Adjustment to go directly to District Court. This would prevent the City of Tulsa from allowing certain appeals to go first to the City Council, an idea that Councilor Roscoe Turner and then-Councilor Jim Mautino have advocated.

While the BoA acts as a quasi-judicial body on cases involving variances, in other cases, involving special exceptions, they have a good deal of discretion to consider issues like neighborhood compatibility. When the subjective element is present, when neighborhood compatibility is under consideration, it seems reasonable to allow the losing side on such a case to seek review by the City Council before lawyers and legal fees are involved.

But whatever the merits of the idea, HB 2559 would prevent Tulsa from even considering it. It is an unwarranted interference in local control of local issues, and such a bill should never pass a Republican-controlled legislative body, since Republicans believe that government closest to the people governs best.

But it did pass. It passed the State House on March 8 by an overwhelming margin. The Senate Judiciary Committee then added an amendment that would make it easier to remove property from a Historic Preservation (HP) overlay zoning district, another bit of unnecessary meddling in local control of local matters. The Senate passed the amended bill last Wednesday, April 19. It now goes back to the State House.

The bill is sponsored by Ron Peters (R) and Jeannie McDaniel (D) in the House and by Brian Crain (R) in the Senate. I am not sure who is responsible for adding the HP amendment in the Senate.

If you object to this attempt by the development lobby to bypass City Hall and to dictate local land-use policy at the State Capitol, you need to let your state representatives know as soon as possible. The toll-free number for the State House is 1-800-522-8502. And here is an alphabetical list of members' names and e-mail addresses.

Here's the text of HB 2559 as passed by the House. Here's the version that was approved by the Senate, with the amendment concerning HP zoning.

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Now this is slick. Big, bad municipal commission not giving you what you want? Put the District Court in charge of appeals. This passed the House by a wide margin,... Read More

9 Comments

Recyclemichael said:

...since Republicans believe that government closest to the people governs best...

Really?

I was believing you up till then...

Twatch said:

House Bill 2559 should be a wake up call to Conservatives.

Ron Peters (H Dist 70) is on powerful House committees,
Committees
Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee - Human Services, Chair
Appropriations and Budget Committee
Energy and Utility Regulation Committee
Environment and Natural Resources Committee
Higher Education Committee

is not term limited until 2012, a TU graduate and represents Tulsa’s Money Belt; the group that abandoned Bill LaFortune, the Republican base and gave us Kathy Tayor.

I am convinced he represents the part of the Republican Party that is committed to Regionalism in its fullest sense (Economic, Equity, and Educational Globalism).

Conservatives are in desperate need of an organized resistance. Michael, what are your thoughts?

Bob said:

The GOP-controlled state House of Representatives and the GOP sponsors of this legislation are only doing what both parties have morphed into:

BIZNESS Friendly Legislators.

I'm not even hopeful that the State Court system would throw out this legislation as an unconstitutional infringement on local sovereignty and local rule setting.

Our state District Courts, Appeals courts and State SUCO are populated with business-friendly lawyers who are appointed to judgeships by every Business Friendly Governor.

Then, they coast to re-election/retention because no one knows what their real record has been, especially with so few of their rulings requiring written opinions at the District Court Level.

susan said:

Think of the OSU situation going on right now.

Bixby has a lot of building going on. Representatives such as Ron Peters must have had builders and others put him up to sponsoring this bill.

susan said:

Look at Ron Peters list of people that donated to his past campaign and future campaigns. Bankers, builders that can sway opinions with a lot of money. All kinds of deals can influence -- cash if something passes, and other under the table deals. Also, more money for "I.O.U.'s"

W. Author Profile Page said:

"Republicans believe that government closest to the people governs best" should be rephrased to "Republicans believe that government closest to rich people and corporations governs best."

That's the GOP's history in recent decades, and I see nothing on the horizon that changes that.

Dan Paden said:

Republicans believe that government closest to the people governs best.

That is surely so, yet it leaves one with no other option but to believe that most of the "Republicans" in the State House and Senate are RINOs, for they surely don't believe any such thing.

Honestly "J" said:

While the BoA acts as a quasi-judicial body on cases involving variances, in other cases, involving special exceptions, they have a good deal of discretion to consider issues like neighborhood compatibility. When the subjective element is present, when neighborhood compatibility is under consideration, it seems reasonable to allow the losing side on such a case to seek review by the City Council before lawyers and legal fees are involved.

Michael, it is this element that makes this bill so underhanded, IMO. And, this also ties in with Charles Norman's request for an ethics code opinion because of Christiansen and the TMAPC. In that UED Committee Meeting, both Councilor Barnes and Councilor Henderson spoke against squashing the neighborhoods by not allowing the representative of their constiuency to speak 'out' on their behalves. This is one of the main arteries from the elected Councilor to their constituency, the voters!

But, as usual, it's not serving the GOB's interest, the way it's supposed to, now. Too much oversight by the outsiders, so the GOB's have to make a new law to suit their pockets some more.

The neighborhoods should be allowed the representation they elect, period. Mr. Norman, just because Councilor Christiansen is opposed to your client, are you even going to this extreme.

If it passes, it will have to be challenged in the Oklahoma Supreme Court!!!

These appeals should absolutely be taken to the City Council, rather than District Court! Then, all of those opposed can be heard in the proper setting, period. Otherwise, the attorneys will railroad the neighborhoods/voters!!

Peters, McDaniel, Norman...chingchingchingching

I'm told that Jeannie McDaniel does not approve of the ammendments that have been made, and does not agree with the changes that have been made which would affect historic preservation.

There's been talk that even if this does not pass, the same HP zoning elements could be attached to another bill -- Senate Bill 1324.

Even without the HP amendment, the new Senate Bill seems very problematic. It greatly expands the powers of the Board of Adjustments, and seems to enpower them to decide such things as "neighborhood compatibility," drainage, and lighting. The way it is written, it appears to give the BOA direct authority to decide, without having to go through the TPC, the TMAPC, or the City Council.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on April 25, 2006 5:30 AM.

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