Shining the Pearl
With a public hearing on a pilot form-based codes program for the Pearl District scheduled for the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission meeting on Dec. 7, officials of that organization are planning a meeting to educate the public about what the program means.
Duane Cuthbertson, the Board of Adjustment planner for the city and county of Tulsa, said the meeting will take place at 6pm on Tuesday, Nov. 16 at the Central Community Center, 1028 E. 6th St. Cuthbertson will be in attendance, along with District 4 City Councilor Maria Barnes, city planner Theron Warlick and perhaps some members of the Planning Commission, he said. The Pearl
District's form-based code will be introduced, and a question-and-answer session will be held.
Cuthbertson describes form-based codes as an alternative to conventional zoning.
"A form-based code fosters predictable built results and a high-quality public realm by using physical form (rather than separation of uses) as the organization principle for the code," he wrote in an e-mail. "The code is adopted into city law as a regulation, not mere guidelines."
Form-based codes address the relationship between building facades and the public realm, he wrote, as well as the form and mass of buildings in relation to one another, and the scale and types of streets and blocks. They are drafted to achieve a community vision based on time-tested forms of urbanism, he wrote.
The Pearl District's proposed form-based code is a reflection of the goals and outcomes desired by the 6th Street Infill Plan the city approved years ago, he wrote.
"Before that public hearing, we wanted to give the general public an opportunity in the evening, not during work hours, to learn about (form-based codes) -- what it is and how we got here," he said. "They'll have the opportunity to ask any questions they might think of, so they're not coming down to the public hearing (in December) and saying, 'Well, I downloaded this from the website, and I still don't understand.' "
The Pearl District would be the first neighborhood in the city to adopt form-based codes if the TMAPC and later the City Council approve the pilot program, which was put together by Pearl District leaders and a consultant through funds generated by a local Tax Increment Finance district. The pilot project the TMAPC will hear about next month includes only a small part of the district -- it is defined generally by U.S. 75 on the west, 5th Place on the north, Peoria Avenue on the East and 11th Street on the south -- but Cuthbertson said efforts to bring form-based codes to the neighborhood may not stop there.
"I think most people would expect that if this is adopted by the city, then shortly thereafter, the plan would be expanded to the rest of the district," he said.
Pearl District supporters hope to remake the neighborhood into a walkable, sustainable community and believe the introduction of form-based codes will facilitate that transformation.
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