The Plan Continues
Members of the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission elected to continue a public hearing on the possible adoption of the PLANiTULSA recommendations at their March 10 meeting, meaning anyone wishing to comment on the proposed update to the city's master plan will have another chance at 6pm Tuesday, March 23 in the City Council chambers.
Last week's hearing was a marathon at three and a half hours, and by the end of the meeting, commissioners decided to continue the public hearing until next week so that anyone who wanted to have the opportunity to speak could do so.
The most contentious moment of the March 10 meeting came when a Tulsa Metro Chamber of Commerce official asked planning commissioners to delay action for 60 days to give the organization time to complete a review of the 200-page PLANiTULSA document and make recommendations. That request has drawn the ire of several supporters of the plan, who have categorized it as an attempt by the chamber and other organizations to scuttle key elements of the PLANiTULSA recommendations.
When the public hearing stage is over, the Planning Commission will vote on the PLANiTULSA recommendations. If it approves the recommendations, they will be forwarded to the City Council for action.
PLANiTULSA is part of the city's first comprehensive plan update in 30 years. The recommendations are the product of a series of public workshops and citizens advisory committee meetings that took place throughout much of 2010, as well as other public input that has been solicited throughout the planning process.
Going for Healthy
A bill designed to promote the growth of healthy corner grocery stores was passed unanimously by the state House of Representatives last week, sending the measure on to the Senate, where it awaits assignment to a committee.
House Bill 3015 by Tulsa Democrat Seneca Scott, designated as the Oklahoma Agricultural Linked Deposit Act, would make it easier for those interested in opening healthy corner stores to access the capital they need. The measure would make such stores -- certified by the state Department of Agriculture as ones that market fresh fruits and vegetables, and other nutritious foods, and for which the sale of beer and tobacco products constitutes less than 10 percent of their gross sales -- eligible for agricultural linked deposit loans of up to $350,000.
The bill is intended to promote the growth of such stores in underserved areas of the state known as "food deserts," or places without access to healthy, nutritious food.
Scott admitted he was surprised by the bill's easy passage through the House.
"I was, on some levels," he said. "Anything that designates a potential financial outlay usually comes under some degree of discussion," he said.
But Scott added that he believes most of fellow representatives understand the bill is an attempt to deal with the state's health problems. Oklahoma ranks as one of the worst states in the country for such issues as childhood obesity and other ailments. The state Health Department has classified more than half the state as a food desert.
Back to Life?
A recently defeated resolution that would have called for a vote of the people on whether to allow grocery stores in Tulsa and Oklahoma counties to sell wine and strong beer still stands a slight chance of being resurrected this session, according to its author.
Sen. Andrew Rice, D-Oklahoma City, said through a spokesman last week that state business leaders are negotiating with Republican leaders at the Capitol to have Senate Joint Resolution 62 brought back up. Rice's measure has strong support among those in Tulsa and Oklahoma City who are working to bring a grocery store to their downtown.
If Rice's measure were adopted, and approved by voters, supporters claim many of the obstacles that have kept such boutique grocers as Trader Joe's and World Market out of the state would be eliminated.
Because of their small footprint and upscale inventory, those grocers are thought to be an especially good fit for the downtowns of the state's two largest cities, both of which lack a grocery store. Those chains rely on the relatively high profit margin that comes from strong beer and wine sales as part of their business plan.
Rice's measure was killed by a 5-4 vote in the Senate's Business and Labor Committee three weeks ago, leading a number of the bill's supporters to denounce that vote as anti-business.
But Sen. Dan Newberry, R-Tulsa, who voted against the bill, said his opposition stemmed from specific problems with the way the measure was worded. He believed Rice's resolution essentially would create a specialty class of stores that were allowed to sell wine and strong beer, while excluding such establishments as supermarkets and convenience stores. He said that would have created an unfair advantage.
More in Development
Developers and members of the Tulsa Development Authority finally came to agreement last week on a contract to purchase land adjacent to the BOK Center where a major mixed-use project would be constructed.
TDA members agreed to sell the land located at the corner of Third Street and Denver Avenue, just east of the arena, for $1.5 million to One Place LLC. The deal has been in the works for more than a year.
The developers are planning to build a 120-room hotel and restaurant, urban residential flats and town lofts, commercial or retail space and underground parking in the area. The land bought by One Place is just a portion of the overall development site for the project. The developer already owns another plot of property adjacent to the TDA site and will include that land in the mixed-use development.
"This development is great news for the city of Tulsa, as it will help create jobs, bring in new sales tax revenues and provide housing that is needed downtown," Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr. said in response to the deal. "With the BOK Center just steps away, the mixed-use development will be another selling point we can use to secure conventions, conferences and more entertainment opportunities within our city."
Share this article: