Arkansas River: February 2007 Archives

Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor wants to focus on design regulations for development in the river corridor, not on creation of a new river authority:

"We have this wonderful asset and right now anyone can develop anything on it," she said. "If I want to put a mini-storage warehouse on it, I can."

Taylor has directed the city's Planning Commission to establish a study committee that could recommend the zoning guidelines.

Taylor said the goal of river corridor zoning is to provide compatibility guidelines that enhance commercial development.

"We don't need an authority for private development to occur," she said.

(I assume they mean the city's Planning Division, not Commission. The city doesn't have its own planning commission. That role is filled by the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission, and Mayor Taylor doesn't have the power to direct the TMAPC to do anything. Anyway, the city's planners are better suited to developing good design requirements, having already handled the same task on several small-area infill development plans. UPDATE: I've learned that the request was indeed sent to the TMAPC.)

There's a graphic with the story that shows that the City of Tulsa has 17 miles of river frontage out of the 26-mile length of the river in Tulsa County. That's one good reason why the City of Tulsa shouldn't cede authority over commercial development to a County Commission-controlled authority.

Taylor seems support design regulations for the river corridor, but then she doesn't seem to want to fully embrace the idea.

In Tulsa, she said, the process for developing guidelines would include public input on whether the city should have zoning restrictions on the river.

"The citizens have to decide whether we want gas stations on the river," she said.

In late 2005, plans for a Kum & Go convenience store on Riverside Parkway prompted the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission to look at its options as it considers future Arkansas River development cases.

The store's location, with its back facing the riverfront, drew some criticism from elected officials, but there was nothing anyone could do to stop it, control its design or its position in relation to the river.

With this statement she almost seems to be giving herself an out, in case there's some backlash from developers. Wouldn't it be nice if the Mayor actually took the lead and expended some political capital in arguing for the importance of special regulations for development along the river?

You can read my column from last August about the importance of design guidelines for the river and other strategic areas here.

It's not often I find myself in agreement with Bobby Lorton, publisher of the Tulsa Whirled, but in this case, he is absolutely right: We don't need a new river development authority, because we already have one with a 32-year-history -- the River Parks Authority. All of the roles being suggested for the new authority are already under the RPA's purview.

While there might need to be changes to the board or staff to enable it to serve an expanded role, there's no need to reinvent the wheel.

After the jump is a letter that Lorton, as chairman of the RPA, sent to Tulsa County Commissioner Randi Miller, leading proponent of a new authority. Be sure to notice the contrast he draws between riverfront development in Jenks and development across the river in Tulsa. I think the suggestion for expanding the RPA board could be tweaked a bit -- there ought to be someone on the board representing near-river neighborhood associations -- but it's a pretty good letter all told.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Arkansas River category from February 2007.

Arkansas River: January 2007 is the previous archive.

Arkansas River: March 2007 is the next archive.

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