Homeowners Protest New Tulsa Apartment Complex

Saturday, January 17th 2009, 4:59 pm
By: News On 6

By Jeffrey Smith, News On 6

TULSA, OK -- A group of South Tulsa homeowners are stepping up their fight against the Sonoma Grande apartment complex. The new building on 81st and Mingo is nearing completion and neighbors say city council needs to do something to protect them.

Vinson Patterson said every time he steps into his backyard, he's met by a monster.

"Tell me that this is not obtrusive," said homeowner Vinson Patterson. "I feel like I've lost the sanctity of my house.

Patterson is referring to the Sonoma Grande apartments, a three-story, 300 unit complex.

"Anybody's going to be able to jump over my fence without even a blink of the eye," said Patterson.

Neighbors said they were told that the property was zoned only for houses, but because of an 18-year-old arrangement with the city, an apartment complex is also permitted.

"I think people think that they've just been taken advantage of," said homeowner Sylvia Perkins.

Neighbors say when construction started, they assumed houses were going up and now it's too late to stop it.

"There's nothing that's going to stop them from peering in," said Patterson.

The developers are doing nothing wrong. A close look at a notice from the Planning Commission reveals that the spot of land can be used for apartment units, under something called a PUD arrangement.

Sylvia Perkins says there's a difference between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law.

"What goes through my mind is that I'm being invaded," said Perkins.

City Councilors said it's easy to see how homeowners feel duped because of the fine print.

"This is a PUD that was issued in 1990, it's 18-years-old," said Bill Christiansen, Tulsa City Council. "I think there should be a timeframe that the person can actually build on the PUD and after that time it goes away.

Christiansen says he'll fight to install a much bigger fence and a tree-line to make the residents feel safer.

The News On 6 called the Sonoma Grande for comment. The leasing agent referred me several times to the Flournoy Construction Company in Georgia. Calls to their office were not returned.

Residents will start moving into the completed apartment units at the end of January.