POSTED ON APRIL 4, 2012:
Battle of Words and Wills
Form-based code detractor circulates a letter that angers Pearl District advocates
In an undated and widely circulated letter, Pearl District dentist Charles Keithline said he is "alarmed" about proposed zoning changes related to the area's new form-based code.
The founder of Pediatric Dental Group sent out a letter on the business's letterhead to neighboring businesses.
"If, like myself, you were not a part of the committee who drew up the 6 St. Plan, you may not be aware of exactly what form-based code means, and how it may negatively affect your property value," Keithline wrote.
He warned business owners that their property "is being rezoned" by the code and that "a bar could be located anywhere." Keithline also stated the code could inhibit Pearl Districters' ability to obtain financing and insurance, or to sell their property because of the code's preservation-focused regulations.
Keithline is concerned that an expansion of the form-based code would be "shortsighted at best, and possibly disastrous to property values because of the limited architectural requirements, lack of parking requirements, and no control over the types of business anywhere," he wrote.
The dentist urged opponents of the code's expansion to attend the April 4 meeting of the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission (TMAPC), and failing that, to contact Wayne Alberty or Carolyn Back, who work for INCOG. "Proponents of this plan are counting on your lack of willingness to take action," Keithline wrote. "Please don't let this happen. This is bad business."
In October 2009, Keithline opened the big, modern, brightly colored Pediatric Dental Group office at the corner of 6th St. and Utica Ave. The modern architecture and big parking lot have a different aesthetic than what's been outlined in the form-based code and the 6th St. Infill Plan.[image-3]
A few weeks after Keithline sent out his letter, a friend of Pearl District advocate and developer Jamie Jamieson forwarded him a copy. Since then, Jamieson has sent out a letter of his own to address Keithline's concerns.
"It is pretty clear from [the letter] that you have not read the [form-based] code, nor made much effort to learn about it, or else you have been utterly misinformed," Jamieson wrote. He accused Keithline of writing a "misleading" letter that does a "disservice" to those who have worked for years on the code and on the renewal of the Pearl District.
"The Pearl committee that collaborated with INCOG and the city in its development devoted hundreds of hours of their private time to it, with a view to dramatically improve the economic well-being of the neighborhood and to contribute to a much more livable, attractive and sustainable city," Jamieson wrote.
Jamieson also explained that the district's plans and codes have been worked on since 2001. "Speaking as a businessman of longstanding, I could not disagree more with your assertion that the Code is 'bad business,'" Jamieson wrote. "Quite the contrary. The majority of the people who worked with INCOG on the code are themselves business owners."
Jamieson said the Pearl District committee would've been happy to meet with Keithline "a lot earlier than this," he wrote. Jamieson also pointed out that "form-based codes are cited in the 6th St. Infill Plan, which the TMAPC adopted in January 2006."
The TMAPC's meeting agenda for April 4 indicated they will hold a "public hearing to consider adopting a Form-Based Code Regulating Plan for the Pearl District."
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