Tulsa Councilors Propose Pause On Riverside Construction

Thursday, September 10th 2015, 11:08 pm
By: News On 6

Development in Tulsa is on the rise, but city councilors are considering whether to stop growth in one of Tulsa's most coveted corridors.

Three councilors are proposing a six-month moratorium on development along the Arkansas River; they said it would give them more time to decide exactly what they want Riverside to look like in the future.

The moratorium would pause projects on both sides of the Arkansas River. It wouldn't stop all development, just whatever city councilors consider the most offensive, heavy duty construction projects.

There are many discussions about what to do with the river, and Thursday night at Tulsa city hall, the conversation turned to what to do with the land along the Arkansas River.

City Councilor Blake Ewing is one of three councilors sponsoring a moratorium on development along Riverside.

"This is an important part of our community, and how you build it matters here," he said.

There's already a group of city leaders creating a river corridor design, deciding what businesses along the river should look like - should they integrate with River Parks trails? What kind of development suits the river best?

That group is changing zoning codes along the Arkansas River, and should have the river corridor designed by spring next year, when the moratorium would expire.

Ewing said, "Since the river's such a sensitive area right now, that it makes sense to just push pause a little bit on the new development."

The moratorium won't push pause on the R.E.I. store being built at 71st and Riverside.

8/11/2015 Related Story: City Approves Contract To Develop Land Near Riverside

Some councilors and community members, like Bill Leighty with Smart Growth Tulsa, oppose the construction because it doesn't mesh with River Parks trails.

"These kinds of shopping environments are, I'm sorry, but a dime a dozen, and it has no place in a prime river location," Leighty said.

He and the Smart Growth Tulsa Coalition thinks there should be a moratorium. He said he’s not opposed to developing Riverside, as long as it integrates with the trails.

"There is going to be some river development and we just want it to have smart standards that are going to work for the citizens," he said.

Ewing said, "We want to be able to make sure that the development that comes in respects what's around it."

Councilors Phil Lakin and Jeannie Cue also sponsor the moratorium; and at Thursday night, G.T. Bynum shared his support of the measure.

Council will vote on the moratorium at the next meeting.