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Council Holds off on Tulsa Dollar Store Moratorium Decision

Matt Trotter

A marathon discussion on temporarily banning new dollar stores in Tulsa ended with no action by the city council Thursday night.

District One Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper wants the six-month moratorium. She says that will allow enough time to find a permanent solution to dollar stores crowding out healthier grocery stores in north Tulsa.

The permanent solution would likely be in the form of spacing requirements added to the city zoning code.

"We are talking about proliferation and unbalanced development. Those are the primary concerns," Hall-Harper said. "It is not a stand against business."

Hall-Harper has told councilors north Tulsa has 15 dollar stores, more than any other area of the city.

Former District One Councilor Jack Henderson said a moratorium is the wrong step.

"If we don't want dollar stores in our community, don't shop in them. That's all we have to do: Stop shopping in them," Henderson said.

Several potential amendments to the proposed moratorium came up during a council meeting that lasted more than three hours and occasionally became heated, as some supporters accused councilors of ignoring the needs of north Tulsa. They said racism is a factor in health and economic disparities there.

District Six Councilor Connie Dodson pushed back against that.

"I do not judge any person by the color of their skin, and I taught my children to do the same thing," Dodson said. "Every one of my children that are of dateable age have dated outside their race, multiple times."

The council will revisit Hall-Harper's proposal next week after considering some revisions, including scaling back the moratorium from citywide — which Hall-Harper said the city's legal department told her was necessary — to a more defined area of north Tulsa.