City Addresses fenceline tax issues: No Tax Increase


There will be no tax increase for properties included in Tulsa’s proposed strip-annexing – or fencelining – of unincorporated areas adjoining and east of the Gilcrease Expressway right-of-way, said city officials.

“There will be no property tax changes for properties within the 300-foot-wide fenceline,” said Bob Bledsoe, a City of Tulsa spokesman.  Some property owners in the area who have requested to be annexed into Tulsa may voluntarily begin City of Tulsa tax rates, he explained.  “But no one else will see any tax increases.”

In fact, Bledsoe said, properties within the fenceline will qualify for lower “inside city” water rates.  “They will actually see a 32 percent reduction in their water rates,” Bledsoe said.

Some Berryhill-area residents have worried that their property taxes will be increased, but Tulsa officials point out the proposed fenceline has been moved east of Berryhill’s resident area.  An earlier proposal would have included the heavily residential areas straddling 65th West Avenue, between 41st and 21st streets.  The current proposal is drawn just west of 57th West Avenue and avoids the residential zone.

“This proposal is designed to insure that the Gilcrease Expressway right-of-way is within the city limits of Tulsa,” Bledsoe said.

City Engineer Ken Hill recently said using funds approved by Tulsa voters in a general obligation bond issue or third penny sales tax program on the expressway project on portions located outside the Tulsa city limits may be problematic.  The Gilcrease West extension includes construction of a bridge over the Arkansas River at 57th West Avenue.

“I’ve been working on this project for 50 years,” westside community leader Montie Box said recently.  “It’s time to get it done.”

Box and a group of business leaders met this week to discuss how to make sure the City of Tulsa continues to commit local and federal funds to the Gilcrease project.

“Tulsa is the cog in the wheel.  If they don’t get behind this (Gilcrease extension) I don’t think it will go anywhere,” said Guy Berry, president of American Heritage Bank.

About 30 westside business and community leaders agreed to join in a request for the City Council to move forward on the current fenceline proposal.  The Council has scheduled a public hearing for Thursday night to take comments about the proposal.

More information about the proposal, including a map, can be found at


By Gary Percefull of the Tulsa County News

Posted in: Articles

New Berryhill development gets green light


Tulsa County Commissioners are to be commended for reconsidering a new commercial development in Southwest Tulsa and overturning an earlier zoning board decision.

The proposed Plaza 41 development on the northwest corner of West 41st Street and 57th West Avenue was stymied when the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission denied a zoning amendment in July on a split vote.  The proposed 10-acre development would have a retail store – possibly a general merchandise store – along with several other buildings.

Opponents of the development presented zoning commissioners with a petition signed by more than 100 persons.  Tulsa County News reporter Sarah Moody later found that many of those “opponents” had no idea what they were opposing by signing the petition.

Land owner Gary Herman had the fortitude and foresight to appeal TMAPC’s decision to the county commission.  At Monday’s meeting, commissioners and Herman forged a simple compromise to address some of the concerns raised in the first hearing.

The developer agreed to limit the height of the buildings in Plaza 41 and erect a screening fence along the north and west sides.

West 41st Street is a major arterial connection between I-44 – via the Gilcrease Expressway “stub” at 57th West Avenue – and Oklahoma 97 to the west.  This connection is made even more important because of the location of the Armed Forces Reserve Center and Tulsa Community College West Campus.  This fact guarantees that traffic counts in the area will spur more and more interest in commercial developments in the area.

The sleepy unincorporated bedroom community of Berryhill is bound to change, as Tulsa grows to the southwest, much like southeast Tulsa changed decades ago.  The Union school district once was in the country.  Look at 71st street and Mingo Road now.


Article compliments of the Tulsa County News

Posted in: Articles

Zoning appeal approved for Plaza 41


The Board of Tulsa County Commissioners voted Monday to approve a zoning change for Plaza 41 in Berryhill.

Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith said the zoning request for the development, located at the corner of West 41st Street and South 57th West Avenue, can best be understood as divided into two segments.  They are the southern 1/3 directly adjacent to 41st Street which can be referred to as the “Commercial Zoning” area that will include a strip center with up to four spaces, one of which would include the ‘Dollar General’ we’ve heard about, and with the northern 2/3 along 57th West Avenue, which can be referred to as the “Office Zoning,” area, Keith said.

“First let me say that I am very sensitive to issues impacting Berryhill,” said Keith.  “This is an important neighborhood and a respected school district.”

Looking at the surrounding area, Keith said that she noted that the corridor already has a donut shop, Taco Mayo, E-Z Mart, auto shop, and an American Heritage Bank.  Also, recognizing that the current County Comprehensive Plan is now 40-plus years old, and does not reflect the current development trends in the Berryhill area, coupled with an effort to improve retail in that unincorporated part of the County and support retail which already exists, the Board of County Commissioners agreed to overturn the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission vote of denial on Zoning Issue CZ-407 and PUD-566-A and uphold the requested zoning changes under certain conditions and restrictions.  The compromise consists of:  1) any future development of any portion of the property at issue, north or south, would be subject to the procedural requirements of a PUD Minor Amendment.  Specifically, the developer would have to notify, by direct mail, any property owner within 300 feet of the proposed development and send a detailed plan to TMAPC for a public hearing at which any member of the public would be allowed to address the developer and TMAPC about the development.  TMAPC would then make a final decision about whether to approve that development plan; and 2) any development of the “office zoning” portion of the property would be strictly limited to:  offices of single story construction, no more than 22 feet in height, pitched roofing, heavy landscaping on the North and West borders, a masonry-type wall at least 8 feet in height, and no exterior lighting that exceeds 12 feet in height.

I feel that these conditions represent a good compromise between protecting the residents in the immediate area from some of the more difficult aspects of future development and supporting economic growth in an area which could certainly benefit from it,” said Keith.

Keith said the major concerns of the neighbors have been addressed by Steven Schuller with Gable Gotwals Law Firm and County Engineer Tom Rains.  Those concerns include adequate septic systems and elimination of potential flooding.

“According to the plan, an underground drip line will be used rather than the problematic aerobic system that has, in the past, created problems for nearby neighbors,” said Keith.  “The Department of Environmental Quality will have to approve any sewage plans put forward for future development, and County Engineer Tom Rains will have to sign off on the required number of detention ponds and he assures me that that should not be a problem.”


By Sarah Moody of the Tulsa County News

Posted in: Articles

Traffic light for 65th and 41st intersection planned for autumn


The public asked and Tulsa County responded.  A new traffic light will be installed at the intersection of 65th West Avenue and West 41st Street and will be in place this fall.

“This is something I have been wanting since I came to the area,” said Berryhill School District Superintendent Mike Campbell.  “I had a first-hand experience getting in an accident there and we had a student who experienced injury in an accident there.  We have a lot of new drivers so this has been on my mind and I’m thankful to Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith for making this happen.  She is a doer and gets things done.”

Often, progress takes time.

“People do not realize this stuff can’t happen over night,” explained Keith.  “We got a request about a year ago when a family called upset that their child had an accident there.  It can be a dangerous spot.  One of our superintendents had a wreck at this intersection.  But the design phase took time, getting out bid documents takes time.”

Two poles will be installed and the light will include an eastbound turn signal so that crossing against four lanes of traffic won’t continue to be an endangerment issue.

“The contractor, Traffic & Lighting Systems, has to order parts to be made, they don’t have pieces like this sitting around on shelves,” said County Engineer Tom Rains.

“None of this was scheduled or funded, but Tom (Rains) somehow made it happen,” said Keith.

The $80,740 needed came from an approximately $1.5 million discretionary fund of state monies which Rains said he can use for unforeseen situations such as the need for this stoplight and for the improvements currently under way along Avery Drive.

The Board of County Commissioners approved the contract award on July 6.  Rains expects installation to be completed by this fall.


By Tracy LeGrand of the Tulsa County News

Posted in: Articles