City planners not done with Pearl District form-based code expansion idea
BY KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writer
Thursday, December 27, 2012
12/27/12 at 8:01 AM
The new year is expected to bring a new chance at life for the Pearl District form-based code.
After months of discussion, the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission is expected early next year to take up a compromise proposal that reduces the area in which the new code would be applied within the district.
The Planning Commission in September rejected a proposal to expand use of the code to the entire district.
Since then, commission members have worked with Planning Commission personnel and the city to come up with a proposal that would cover a smaller portion of the district.
"In a nutshell, it (the new boundary) is the Sixth Street corridor from Peoria Avenue to Utica Avenue, and then running north-south it is basically the corner of Peoria Avenue to Sixth Street north to Interstate 244," said city Planning Director Dawn Warrick.
The latest proposal also includes properties north and east of the area in which the form-based code now applies, she said.
The City Council approved the form-based code last year, introducing a new land-use development option.
Unlike the traditional, use-based zoning code, which separates properties by use, the form-based code focuses more on a property's form and placement on a lot.
The intent is to help create more pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods such as one might see in a large city.
The new code initially was applied to only 125 parcels covering about 60 acres of the district between Fifth Place and 11th Street west of Peoria Avenue.
That change to the city's zoning code passed without fanfare.
The form-based code became a source of controversy when proponents requested that its use be expanded to the entire district, which includes 1,172 parcels covering roughly 300 acres.
Planning Commission members have been generally supportive of the new code but balked at expanding its use to the entire Pearl District.
Among their concerns was that the new code would not work in industrial or automobile-oriented areas of the district; that the proposed expansion plan conflicted with what was envisioned in the Sixth Street Infill Plan; and that residents of the area were not properly notified of the proposed expansion.
"We are revisiting it (the expansion proposal) because it has been reduced down to a manageable size," said Planning Commission Chairman Joshua Walker, "and now what they are going to do is go to every other property owner that this would affect, and they didn't do that the first time around."
Warrick said the city is doing everything it can to be sure that no one is left out of the conversation.
"We want to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to come to the table and ask questions and propose scenarios and be part of the decision-making process," she said.
Beginning in late January, the city will host a series of workshops on the proposed new boundaries.
Each property owner within the latest proposed boundaries - along with every property owner within 300 feet of the boundaries - will be notified by mail of the meetings, Warrick said.
Notices also will be sent to each neighborhood association affected by the proposal and each person who has spoken at previous Planning Commission meetings on the subject.
At the workshops "we can really dig into what the impact might be to the affected properties," Warrick said.
"We are going to have designers present who can draw out options right there."
She said the city also wants to hear from those people who are concerned about specific regulations included in the form-based code.
Warrick noted, for example, that some people have questioned the new code's requirement that buildings be a minimum of two stories.
"We are willing to go back and say, 'Is it really worth it to us to mandate that?' " she said.
Original Print Headline: Planners to try again in 2013 for form code
Kevin Canfield 918-581-8313