Council approves QuikTrip’s controversial proposal, new trash rates
BY BRIAN BARBER World Staff Writer
Thursday, May 03, 2012
Tulsa’s City Council in a 5-4 vote Thursday night approved QuikTrip’s controversial proposal to build a new, bigger store at 11th Street and Utica Avenue and close 10th Street even though the project will not adhere to the Pearl District’s small area plan.
In other business, councilors approved customer rates for the new trash and recycling program that will launch Oct. 1.
Councilor Blake Ewing, whose District 4 includes the QuikTrip project, begged his fellow councilors to vote against it, noting their action will have long-term implications on the city’s planning and development process.
“Of all the issues since I’ve become a councilor — and we’ve dealt with trash collection and would-be prostitute masseuses in that time — this without exception has been the most stressful,” he said.
Everyone loves QuikTrip, Ewing said, adding that he’s part of “Tulsa’s love affair with a convenience store.” But, he said, “The plan has to matter.”
Ewing was joined by Councilors G.T. Bynum, Karen Gilbert and Skip Steele in voting against the QT proposal, while Councilors Phil Lakin, Tom Mansur, Jack Henderson, David Patrick and Jeannie Cue voted in favor of it.
Opponents of the proposal argued that the new store’s design would not comply with the Pearl District small area plan that was adopted by the City Council in 2006.
The plan encourages pedestrian-friendly developments and includes construction guidelines that call for structures to be built up to the property line with parking in the rear.
But those in favor of the development said it would be silly to make an auto-centric business try to fit into those guidelines and that QT, which has been at that corner for years, would continue to be an asset to the area.
The council has to be flexible in its planning to encourage development, Henderson argued.
“Just because I support a plan doesn’t mean I think it’s Bible,” he said, adding that 11th Street is Route 66 — meant for car traffic.
“The Pearl District is not going to suffer from this — I guarantee that.”
Councilor Phil Lakin noted that as the head of the Tulsa Community Foundation he helped secure funding to update the city’s comprehensive plan, so he values that process.
But, Lakin said, “I have to support this because of what the store provides to the residents now and what it will provide in the future.”
Ewing said he rejects the idea “that QuikTrip’s plan is more important than ours.” As elected leaders, councilors must defend the city’s plans — which were created by citizens.
“I believe in planning. I believe in the small-area-plan process enough to ask more people to dedicate hours of their time to create plans for their neighborhoods,” he said.
“If tonight, we decide as a council that small area plans don’t matter, I will work tomorrow to call those people and uninvite them from the process ... because it would in fact be a waste of their time.”
Bynum said the plan already has been created and what was being debated Thursday night was whether the council would follow through with it.
“What I’ve heard this evening is that we like small area plans but we don’t necessarily want to do what it takes to follow through with them,” he said. “Well, I like being skinny and handsome, but I haven’t necessarily followed the plans to achieve that and the results sit here before you.”
The council’s other major action of the night was to approve the new trash rates by an 8-1 vote, with Steele being the lone councilor against.
The rates include $15.52 per month for the 96-gallon cart with curbside collection once a week, which is considered the standard service.
Cheaper rates will be available for the two smaller size trash carts. Twice-a-week pickup and backyard collection will have extra charges.
Councilor Blake Ewing, whose District 4 includes the QuikTrip project, begged his fellow councilors to vote against it. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World