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Moratorium on Tulsa River Development Passes

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Tulsa’s city council puts restrictions on Arkansas River development on a 6–2 vote.

They passed a moratorium on heavy commercial developments like gas stations until a permanent zoning change goes into effect. David Patrick and Jack Henderson voted against it. Anna America was absent.

Susan Miller with INCOG said a committee spent considerable time evaluating land near the river.

"And we carefully looked at those parcels and really only focused on those parcels that had a physical relationship to the river," Miller said. "They may not be on the riverside, but they still have a very important relationship to the river."

Residential projects or projects that have already secured permits won’t be affected. That means the moratorium won’t stop a retail development at 71st Street and Riverside Drive.

One landowner is already coming out against the moratorium. Attorney Tom Vogt said his client owns eight acres on the east side of Riverside Drive zoned for commercial use, and he has buyers who want to build a convenience store and auto shop.

"My client will suffer substantial economic loss if delays caused by the moratorium — even if the appeal process is followed and successful — cause my client to lose the pending sales of property," Vogt said.

Under the moratorium, only a standalone convenience store would be allowed. Vogt says the landowner entered into a contract in August.

City Attorney Mark Swiney explained the appeal process.

"If someone feels that he's being treated unfairly or that he is due an exception to the moratorium, he or she has the right to come before the TMAPC and make his case," Swiney said.

The TMAPC is the area planning commission.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.