Infill-homebuilding foes plot strategy

Oct. 17--The Home Builders Association of Greater Tulsa wants to work with midtown homeowners to address their concerns about the tearing down of houses in older neighborhoods and the construction of larger ones in their place, the group's executive vice president said Tuesday evening.

Paul Kane said his group would like to create an architectural review committee that would look at builders' house plans and provide a "stamp of approval" to those that meet appropriate standards for scale and scope.

"The Home Builders Association does not want to be looked upon as the bad guy," Kane said. "The Home Builders Association wants to be looked upon as part of the solution."

Kane spoke at "Taming the Teardown: A Moratorium to Save our Heritage," a forum attended by more than 100 people at All Souls Unitarian Church, 2952 S. Peoria Ave.

The event was sponsored by the group Preserve Midtown in association with the Coalition of Historic Neighborhoods of Tulsa.

Preserve Midtown is trying to stop what it sees as a proliferation of poor infill projects -- out-of-scale, out-of-character houses that don't fit into the existing neighborhoods.

The group is dedicated to educating people about what it sees as problems with the city's teardown and infill policies -- or a lack thereof -- and to creating solutions to them.

Amanda DeCort of the Tulsa Preservation Commission described "teardown" as removing an existing home in an established neighborhood to build a new, larger home on that lot.

"This is not unique in Tulsa," she said, noting a report that found at least 33 states struggling with the problem.

Preserve Midtown is pro posing several remedies, including a moratorium on residential teardowns and infill construction.

It would like to see the moratorium in place until a neighborhood stabilization plan or a conservation district ordinance can be enacted.

Barbara VanHanken, a founder of Preserve Midtown, said: "The fabric of our older neighborhoods is being torn apart and irreparably changed by the construction of McMansions. We want residents of older neighborhoods to be at the table when changes are crafted that affect them."

City Councilors Cason Cart er and Maria Barnes were among the participants in a panel discussion and question-and-answer session.

Barnes said she favors creating conservation districts.

Carter said he thinks it is important that residents of the community "control the destiny of their own property" but that he would have to see the specific language of a conservation district ordinance before deciding whether to support it.

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www.tulsaworld.com/preservemidtown

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Kevin Canfield 581-8313

kevin.canfield@tulsaworld.com

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