Opponents of Pearl District code form association to air their views
BY KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writer
Sunday, September 02, 2012
9/02/12 at 4:53 AM
About 25 people who say their concerns regarding the Pearl District form-based code have been dismissed by the city Planning Department have come together to make their voices heard.
The Pearl District Business and Property Owners Association was incorporated just weeks ago, but members hope to have an immediate impact on how the city uses the new code.
Joe Westervelt, a Pearl District property owner and association member, said that as recently as a few weeks ago the Planning Department "marginalized or invalidated" association members' concerns about the code in a presentation to the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission.
"We thought that if we formed ourselves an association, they would have to listen to us like they seem to listen to other associations," Westervelt said. "We had no voice without forming one."
City Planning Director Dawn Warrick said her department always works to engage interested parties.
"We do our best to present all information and issues in a balanced and fact-based discourse with decision-makers so they have all necessary information to take action on planning matters," Warrick said.
The new association includes representatives from Hillcrest Medical Center, QuikTrip, Mac's Electric Supply, McDonald's Corp., Midwest Marble, Hesselbein Tire and other businesses.
Association member Nancy Keithline, who with her husband, Charles Keithline, owns Pediatric Dental Group at 602 S. Utica Ave., said the association is not opposed to form-based zoning in general.
"The way this one is written is faulty and how it is being applied to this district is wrong," Keithline said.
The form-based code was approved by the City Council in 2011. It creates a separate zoning code that can be implemented in any area of the city through a regulating plan and subsequent rezoning to a form-based code district.
Unlike the use-based zoning code, which focuses on the separation of land uses, the form-based code focuses on the form and placement of a structure with the intent of creating a dense, pedestrian-oriented neighborhood such as those found in urban communities.
The form-based code was initially applied to about 60 acres of the Pearl District between Fifth Place and 11th Street west of Peoria Avenue.
The Planning Commission is considering a proposal to expand the use of the code to other areas of the district, an idea that has members of the association concerned that it would limit or kill their ability to operate and expand.
Specific concerns, they say, include the code's requirement that parking be at the rear of a structure and that the structure be at least two stories high and built up to the street.
Jim Cameron, vice president of the Indian Health Care Resource Center board of trustees, said the building as it currently exists would not have been allowed under the form-based code.
Should the code be expanded to cover the center's property, which is at Sixth Street and Peoria Avenue, a planned expansion would be out of the question.
"We have a vision of a unified campus where our buildings look the same," Cameron said. "If this goes through as approved, that wouldn't be possible."
Brooke Hamilton is one of the organizers of the new association. Her family has owned property in the Pearl District for more than 50 years and operates Nameplates Inc. and other businesses.
The properties are not expected to be included in the expanded form-based code, but Hamilton said she helped create the association to assist other property owners and to help ensure that her family's businesses can continue to thrive.
Of particular concern to Hamilton are the code's parking and expansion requirements.
"There are just some essentially simple issues that I don't believe the people who would like to have the form-based code have considered," she said. "There is no way we could have a shared parking or park on the street. With the 18-wheelers that come out of there it is truly not feasible."
As a first step toward resolving their issues with the form-based code, the association has proposed amending the Sixth Street Infill Plan, which provides the underlying development guidelines for the district.
"If we get some guiding principles from the Sixth Street Plan adjusted satisfactorily, the Sixth Street Plan as a guiding document will nurture and help us be successful and protect us from plans that are not sensible," Westervelt said.
Warrick said she has received a copy of the association's proposed amendments, and she feels many of their concerns are addressed in the staff recommendation for the new regulating plan for their neighborhood.
"We will always endeavor to engage interested parties, and we do our best to present all information and issues in a balanced and fact-based discourse with decision-makers so they have all necessary information to take action on planning matters," Warrick said.
Proposed amendments to the infill plan
The newly formed Pearl District Business and Property Owners Association has filed an application with the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission to amend the Sixth Street Infill Plan as follows:
Source: Pearl District Business and Property Owners Association
- Recognize and encourage contemporary businesses that add diversity to the area, provide employment, services and commercial activity to the Plan area.
- Recognize the importance of motor vehicles to this area and designate all of Utica Avenue, all of East 11th Street and Peoria Avenue north of 6th Street in the auto-oriented Highway Commercial Subarea.
- Designate all property industrially zoned within the Industrial Subarea of the Plan.
- Correct the Plan to remove all property from the east side of Utica Avenue and the south side of 11th Street from the Plan area.
- Reduce the emphasis on townhomes and emphasize work-force housing.
- Provide for no reduction in required parking until such time as parking demand can be satisfied by public parking or public transportation.
- Permit street closure to allow for larger scaled projects and control access.
Original Print Headline: Group to oppose form-based code
Kevin Canfield 918-581-8313
Pearl District business and property owners who are opposed to the proposed district's form-based code include Carmelita Skeeter (left), CEO of Indian Healthcare Resource Center; Katy Brown, of the Indian Healthcare Resource Center; Claudia Hamilton, of Quincy Square; Nancy Keithline, of Pediatric Dental Group; and Brooke Hamilton, of Nameplates Inc., at 6th Street and Utica Avenue, in the heart of the district. CORY YOUNG / Tulsa World