POSTED ON AUGUST 8, 2012:
Pearl Decision Delayed. "Will we be taking a vote at the next meeting?" Michael Covey asked of his fellow planning commissioners. "Is that the intent?"
A trace of a sheepish smile worked its way onto the face of Joshua Walker, chair for the Tulsa Metro Area Planning Commission. For the last 80 minutes or so, the group had discussed the relative merits of new regulations for building development in the Pearl District, a proposal that first came up for a public hearing in April.
In response to Covey, Walker noted the potential for "new options" meant that a vote could be postponed yet again at the Sept. 5 meeting.
"However, I think we all are getting close to wanting to adopt something. I know I am," Walker said at the conclusion of the Aug. 1 commission meeting.
Over the last several months, the proposal has met with vocal opposition from business and property owners concerned about how new rules would affect expansion plans or attempts to sell their land. Others tout the code as key to mixed-use development in a dilapidated area.
The group agreed to table the issue for a month because city planners said they needed that long to write a "comprehensive report" with recommendations on issues that have vexed commissioners about the proposal.
"We want to talk about and recommend whether or not we use the existing borders that you've recommended, or do they need to be reduced," said a frustrated John Dix, the most vocal critic of the proposal among the 11 commissioners. "We need to talk about whether or not the pilot period needs to be expanded and leave the existing borders where they are. We need to talk about whether we're going to recommend an opt in or an opt out or no opt at all."
Unlike in April, when several speakers expressed their opinion, only two speakers addressed the commission at the Aug. 1 hearing.
Gail Runnels, a representative of oilfield supply company Skinner Brothers, spoke against the proposal. Form-based code proponent Jamie Jamieson, developer of the Village at Central Park in the Pearl District, was grilled about a letter in which he said the commission "dithers and prevaricates."
Jamieson clarified that he didn't mean to accuse the group of falsehoods, but explained his position:
"We've done everything we've been asked to do ... back to May 2000 to collaborate with the city of Tulsa," Jamieson said. "It's only very recently that suddenly an evidently concerted campaign of opposition to this code has jumped out, which certainly took us by surprise."
The meeting on Sept. 5 likely won't be the final word.
Cool Week for Some. While thermometers reached 112 degrees for three straight days July 31- August 2, it seemed pretty cool compared to earlier in the summer for one group of Tulsa County office workers.
About 20 workers in the county's election board department had been without air conditioning for three straight months, said Patty Bryant, secretary for the Tulsa County Election Board.
"This July, we were just working the morning, it was so hot. Fat girls in tank tops, it wasn't pretty," Bryant said.
The building at 555 N. Denver Ave. had long needed an air conditioning upgrade, which began in May. But with the ripped out guts of the cooling system, workers had to rely on "two big water cooler fans" along with whatever comfort could be plugged in close by, Bryant said.
"We just had fans everywhere. On our desks, beside our desks. My fan and I became close personal friends," Bryant said. Measured temperatures in the building topped the mid-80s, she said.
Finally, in the last full week of July, the air began to blow cold, though work continues on the system.
"It is so cold I have to wear a jacket," Bryant said. Not that she's complaining.
Wine in Grocery Stores Petition Withdrawn. Oklahomans may still get a chance to vote on whether wine should be sold in grocery stores.
But it won't be this year.
Oklahomans for Modern Laws has withdrawn a petition that asked for voters to decide whether some large grocery stores in the state's most populous counties could sell wine.
The plan now is to file another petition in 2013 in hopes of getting the issue of allowing wine in supermarkets on the 2014 ballot, according to Lee Slater, attorney for the group.
The petition was officially withdrawn Aug. 3. No signatures were ever gathered, Slater said.
After submitting the petition on April 3 to state authorities for review, legal challenges forced the group to wait until an Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling in late June before moving forward with the petition, effectively reducing the window for collecting signatures because of ballot deadlines.
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