Zoning and the Admiral & Yale homeless shelter

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This morning during the Tulsa City Council's Urban and Economic Development meeting, there was some discussion about whether the housing for the mentally ill and homeless, proposed by the Tulsa Housing Authority and the Mental Health Association of Tulsa, was correctly classified for zoning and land use purposes.

When you apply for a building permit, the City's building services department determines whether your plans comply with the setback, height, floor area, and use restrictions set out in the zoning code. If your plans aren't in compliance, you can tweak your plans, appeal to the Board of Adjustment if you believe you really are compliant, or apply for a variance if you know you aren't. (A variance can be granted for height, floor area, etc., but state law prohibits a BoA from granting a use variance.)

Land uses are categorized by the zoning code into 30 categories, called use units. A table shows which use units are allowed by right in a given zone, and which use units require a special exception from the Board of Adjustment.

Use Unit 8, Multifamily dwellings and similar uses, includes apartment, assisted living facility, and community group home.

The land in question is zoned CH -- Commercial High Intensity. By right -- no special zoning permission required -- land uses included in Use Unit 8 are allowed in CH.

So what's the issue? There is a special restriction that doesn't apply to ordinary apartments or multifamily dwellings in CH zoning, but it does apply to assisted living facilities, community group homes, and convents. The floor area ratio for those facilities can be no greater than 0.5.

Floor area ratio is a limit on how big a building you can put on a lot of a certain size. You calculate floor area by adding up the square footage on each floor of the building. If you have a four story building with 20,000 sq. ft. on each floor, the building's floor area is 80,000 sq. ft.

You calculate floor area ratio by dividing the building's floor area by the lot's area. A building with a floor area of 80,000 sq. ft. on a 100,000 sq. ft. parcel would have a floor area ratio of 80,000 / 100,000 = 0.8. That's OK for a normal apartment building in CH zoning, but it's too high for an assisted living facility or community group home in any zone.

I don't have the numbers on how big the facility will be and how big the lot is -- perhaps a reader has that information. But it may be that the building would violate the 0.5 floor area requirement. How the City classifies the use of the proposed building will determine whether the facility can be built there as a matter of right at its proposed size, or whether it will have to be scaled back.

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1 Comments

Frank said:

Well if NIMBY continues on then look at the corner of Apache & Harvard.There is a lot available and it isn't next to a children's center.Currently the TFD is building a new station and Catholic charity is building next to it.Check this spot out!

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on September 9, 2008 6:58 PM.

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