TPC Comments on Zoning Code Update


The Public Hearings for the comprehensive Zoning Code update are starting on Monday, September 28, 2015. The Tulsa Preservation Commission (TPC) provided comments and suggested edits in April and August 2015. While overall, the Commission found the revisions to and retention of the previous code language positive and sufficient, there are areas for which modifications are recommended to provide needed clarification or to be consistent with well-established national standards of historic preservation practice.

Of those comments and edits not incorporated from the April request letter, TPC prioritized four edits in a letter to City Council and Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission on August 14, 2015. The following three edits are still being requested by the TPC to be included in the final draft:

  1. 20.010 C(2) Interpretation– This section currently states that the “more restrictive overlay shall apply” when there are multiple overlays. The Preservation Commission is concerned with how this section of the Code will be implemented and who will make the determination of which overlay is more restrictive. Specific restrictions that apply to historic preservation are based on set guidelines and standards. We recommend amending the last sentence by adding: “with the exception of Historic Preservation Overlays which shall govern all HP Overlay Districts.”  With different hearing bodies reviewing requests at different times on the same project, there could be confusion between the entities on which overlay is more restrictive without this clarification.
  2. 70.070 E Meeting and Final Decision- Preservation Commission– The current draft states that the Preservation Commission must act on the application within 30 days and if the Commission does not take action within the allotted time, it is an automatic approval. In section 70.010 K, it states that if action is not taken within the allotted period, or the applicant has not agreed to an extension, then the application is denied. A Certificate of Appropriateness is the only application that grants an automatic approval if action is not taken within the allotted period. Moreover, the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission has 60 days to review a completed application while other hearing bodies have no allotted time frame. If this language is not corrected, the Preservation Commission will have little choice but to formally deny such a request if the time line cannot be satisfied. This is not helpful to the applicant/property owner and is not satisfactory to the Preservation Commission, either. The TPC recommends the text be replaced with:
    “Within 60 days of receipt of a complete HP Permit application, the Preservation Commission must meet to consider the application and act to approve the HP permit, approve the HP permit with modifications and/or conditions, or deny the HP permit application based on the standards and review criteria of §70.070- F. Approval of an HP permit requires at least a simple majority vote of the Preservation Commission. Failure of the Preservation Commission to take action within 60 days of the receipt of a complete HP Permit application is deemed to constitute denial of the HP permit, unless the applicant requests or agrees to an extension of the 60-day period. If additional information is required by the Preservation Commission, time is suspended until the requested information is provided in order to make a final decision.”
  3. 70.070 G Demolition Requests– TPC would like to strengthen the current code to require a process wherein the applicant for a demolition permit is provided the opportunity to demonstrate the lack of economic feasibility to rehabilitate the structure or other reasons to justify demolition. TPC is concerned that the 60-day stay period is not sufficient time to work with applicants to find alternatives to the demolition of Tulsa’s historic resources. After review of demolition ordinances in peer cities and in order to reflect current best practices in historic preservation, TPC recommends different but reasonable provisions that:
      • Increase number of days for delay;
      • Require additional information to substantiate the reason for demolition;
      • Add an Economic Hardship Clause for applicants; and
      • Add a maintenance section consistent with existing nuisance provisions.

The entire zoning code update is available online for public review and comment. Public comments will be heard starting on September 28th at 6:00PM at a Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission meeting.