The task force appointed by Mayor Taylor to study and make recommendations on planning and development processes had it’s first meeting March 11, 2009. It was an open meeting, although not very well publicized. I read about it in the Tulsa World and decided I’d go. Good Stuff, l-o-n-g overdue.
As I sat there listening it became clear that “LandRules” describes a conceptual approach to a much needed product that is a very close fit with this Task Force’s mission. After pondering this idea for 7 years, it’s obvious that now is the time for it to emerge.
I know two of the task force members well enough to approach them about this idea. After the meeting I asked Bruce Bolzle and Paul Kane about arranging a meeting to discuss my ideas. Both were receptive so I sent them an email with a brief description and a link to this blog.
Paul and I met a few days later and had a great discussion. He agreed to sponsor the idea and at the next committee meeting, toss it out and recommend they put me on the next agenda to make a presentation. Bruce and I haven’t yet been able to find a convenient time to get together but have visited briefly on the phone.
The next meeting was March 27, 2009. Wayne Alberty with INCOG made a lengthy presentation of the existing BOA and TMAPC notice requirements and processes. It generated a lot of discussion among the task force members and the audience.
The meeting ran long and Julie Hall’s presentation was postponed to the following meeting. There was never a good opportunity for Paul to bring up my idea so he intends to try again next meeting.
That’s April 6 and hopefully will be the time. Meanwhile, I may send some advance information to Councilor Christiansen and Jack Blair to distribute to the full task force as a preview of the concept.
I’ll update this blog post as things progress.
Here’s the Tulsa World article that appeared after the March 11 meeting, reprinted without permission:
By KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writer
Published: 3/8/2009 4:13 AM
Last Modified: 3/8/2009 4:57 AM
“We believe that, yes, changes are needed,” Jack Page, the department’s director, told city councilors last week.
“We see that developers are having an impact on adjoining properties and that there needs to be a better process for the adjacent property owners to understand what’s going in sooner.”
Page’s proposed fixes include using “layman’s language” in public notices and requiring developers to provide three-dimensional plans early in the process to give the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission, city councilors and citizens a better sense of a project’s potential impact on adjoining property owners.
City councilors, led by Bill Christiansen, have been looking into the city’s development and planning procedures in the wake of public criticism about the city’s handling of several projects.
Sonoma Grande, a three-story apartment complex at 81st Street and Mingo Road, is one of those projects.
No one has accused the developer of the project of any wrongdoing, but some homeowners who live adjacent to the 336-unit development are livid that city officials allowed the project to be built as close as 54 feet from their property lines.
Specifically, the homeowners have complained that the notice they received about a public hearing on the proposed apartments was misleading and that the developer effectively increased the height of the apartments by adding soil to the property.
Page cited Sonoma Grande in calling for the use of clearer language in public notices sent out by city planning boards. In that case, some homeowners complained that the notices provided the underlying zoning but did not state specifically what could be built on the land.
“Make them state, for example, that it’s not just simply an RS-3 (zoning), but state that they area going to build an apartment on an RS-3 (zoned piece of property), if that’s the scenario,” Page said. “State in a common language what it’s going to be.”
Page stressed that the early use of three-dimensional plans would go a long way toward addressing the myriad concerns raised about Sonoma Grande and other projects.
Under Page’s proposal, for example, developers seeking the Planning Commission’s approval of a planned unit development would be required to submit three-dimensional plans. And those plans would have to account for any change in the property’s elevation envisioned by the developer.
By doing so, other planning concerns, such as visual separation and setbacks, could be more thoroughly and accurately addressed early in the process.
“The main point here is that we live in a three-dimensional world, and up till this point, we have been approving projects in a two-dimensional format,” Page said.
Planning and development recommendations
The city’s Development Services Department’s preliminary recommendations for improving planning and development procedures:
Public hearing notification: Notices sent for Planning Commission and Board of Adjustment meetings should be written in clear, specific, layman’s language that tells property owners exactly what type of development is being proposed for their neighborhood
Visual separation: Early in the planning process, developers would be required to provide three-dimensional exhibits to more accurately determine where screening would be required; city is considering requiring multiply layers of screening for those properties that include multiple elevations
Setback and height restrictions: Calculations would no longer be based on the assumption that the property in question and the adjoining property is at the same elevation; early in the process, developers would have to set forth any planned changes in topography and those changes would be considered in determining setback and height restrictions
Earth change permits: 1) the city would consider a cut or fill of four feet or more as constituting a change in use and thus require the developer to apply for a zoning clearance permit; 2) the city would eliminate earth change permit exemption for infill projects on one acre or less unless changes are for agriculture or landscaping-type purposes and are activities that are customarily accessory uses to that residential use
Plats: Require that a plat be filed within a certain time after the Planned Unit Development is approved; city has yet to propose what that time limit should be.
What’s the next step?
Development Services Director Jack Page told city councilors last week that some of the recommendations could be implemented administratively and that some would require a change in city ordinances.
For now, however, he expects the recommendations to be considered by Mayor Kathy Taylor’s newly appointed task force on planning and development.
The mayor has asked the task force to recommend ways the city can foster better communication between city planning boards, developers and citizens, and to come up with methods to better educate citizens on land-use issues.
The task force is to present its recommendations by April 15.
The task force members are: Bruce Bolzle, commercial builder; Lauren Brookey, director of marketing and communications for Tulsa Community College; Julie Hall, chairwoman, Who Owns Tulsa?; Suliman Hawamdeh, chairman of the information technology department, OU-Tulsa; Paul Kane, executive vicepresident/ CEO of the Home Builders Association of Greater Tulsa; Bill Leighty, TMAPC member, residential Realtor; Nancy Siegel, general counsel, Office of the Mayor.