Keith TMAPC appointee doesn't live in TMAPC jurisdiction

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Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith has appointed a new Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission (TMAPC) member, but his home and neighborhood are not within the TMAPC's jurisdiction.

Keith's appointee is Ryon Stirling, a City of Sand Springs homeowner. His property is unaffected by the decisions of the TMAPC. The TMAPC's jurisdiction is the City of Tulsa and unincorporated Tulsa County; the City of Sand Springs has its own municipal planning commission "responsible for the administration of planning and zoning ordinances and the comprehensive plan for the City."

Stirling replaces Elizabeth Wright, a City of Tulsa homeowner (and thus a resident within the TMAPC's jurisdiction). Wright's three-year term will expire on January 18. About a year ago, Keith made an ill-considered and unsuccessful attempt to force Wright from office.

In the daily paper's story on the appointment, Keith is quoted as saying she "was just following through with [her] commitment to get someone from west of the river." Stirling lives on N. Main St. in Sand Springs, which is north of the river, on the opposite side of the river from west Tulsa.

UPDATE 2010/01/05: Is Stirling's appointment legal? Yes, because he's a Tulsa County resident being appointed to a Tulsa County seat on the TMAPC. It is, however, an offense to the idea of representative government and self-determination to have a planning commissioner who will be unaffected by the decisions he makes.

The City of Sand Springs has absolutely no relationship with the TMAPC. The same is true of Broken Arrow, Skiatook, Bixby, Jenks, and every other Tulsa County municipality (with the lone exception of the City of Tulsa). Each of the suburbs has its own Title 11, Article XLV, municipal planning commission, which performs roughly the same functions that the TMAPC performs for Tulsa: holding hearings and making recommendations on zoning changes, zoning code amendments, lot splits, subdivision regulations, and comprehensive planning to the city council.

Last year, I posted a list of the eight types of planning commission authorized by Oklahoma statute. The TMAPC is the sole example of a Title 19, Section 863, joint city-county metropolitan area planning commission for counties over 180,000.

The TMAPC was established at a time when most of Tulsa County was unincorporated, the City of Tulsa was completely contained within Tulsa County, annexing land gradually, as new subdivisions were developed. Today only a tiny amount of land is unincorporated, and most of that is surrounded by a city's fenceline as a reserve for future annexation. The City of Tulsa now extends into four counties. It would make more sense for the City of Tulsa to have its own planning commission, like Oklahoma City has, and for a county planning commission to have jurisdiction over the shrinking amount of unincorporated territory. Each entity already has its own comprehensive plan, zoning code, subdivision regulations, and Board of Adjustment; why not separate planning commissions as well?

MORE: Reader "The A Team" sent me a link to Ryon Sterling's 2007 thesis for his OU master's degree in Architectural Urban Studies. The thesis was a study of Tulsa's neighborhood associations based on survey responses. It's an interesting read. Stirling calls for city-defined standards for neighborhood associations:

I am confident that it is necessary for the City of Tulsa to reexamine the current guidelines regarding Neighborhood Associations and proceed by establishing a definition for the Associations to clarify and standardize what it means to be a Neighborhood Association--from boundaries, to membership, to by-laws. I suspect this will be a challenge since the Neighborhood Associations have been able to self define, in some cases for decades, but it is essential if Neighborhood Associations are to be used in a large way for planning purposes in the update to the Comprehensive Plan and are eligible to receive public dollars from Vision 2025 funds or future neighborhood funding measures. It has been suggested by this committee that a tiered system be examined as one possibility to attend to these concerns.

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4 Comments

Paul said:

Maybe she meant west of the Mississippi River.

Bob said:

County Commissioner Karen Keith is being groomed by the local Mid-town ruling elite to become the future Mayor Susan Savage.

She's a professional TV personality with many years of experience in facing the camera, and speaking in public. She was on the city payroll while she simultaneously served as one of the chief promoters of Vision 2025.

Her ill-advised decision last year to push for the early removal of TMAPC Board Member Elizabeth Wright was obviously to appease the local development and builder cartel, with whom Ms. Wright had repeatedly clashed for the simple reason that she questioned TMAPC policy.

Brilliant of Karen Keith to have picked a TMAPC replacement that lives outside of an area affected by the jurisdiction of the TMAPC?

Great catch, Michael.

Patty said:

Can you elaborate on whether or not this individual can serve on the TMAPC?

Is the relationship between the city of Sand Springs to TMAPC similar to what we have here in Tulsa?


Keith's appointment of Stirling is legal, because he is a resident of Tulsa County and will fill a county position on the TMAPC. It is, however, an offense to the idea of representative government and self-determination to have a planning commissioner who will be unaffected by the decisions he makes.

The City of Sand Springs has absolutely no relationship with the TMAPC. The same is true of Broken Arrow, Skiatook, Bixby, Jenks, and every other Tulsa County municipality (with the lone exception of the City of Tulsa). Each of the suburbs has its own Title 11, Article XLV, municipal planning commission, which performs roughly the same functions that the TMAPC performs for Tulsa: holding hearings and making recommendations on zoning changes, zoning code amendments, lot splits, subdivision regulations, and comprehensive planning to the city council.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on January 3, 2011 6:14 PM.

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