BA Planning Commission OKs zoning change for cottage homes despite vehement opposition


By John Dobberstein, Editor

The Broken Arrow Planning Commission approved a rezoning request Thursday for a 20-acre mixed-used development in south Broken Arrow despite more than 100 residents who have voiced their opposition to the project.

Perkins Development Corp. requested that 20.5 acres of undeveloped land at the southeast corner of W. New Orleans Street and Olive Avenue be rezoned from agricultural to commercial, residential, multi-family, community mixed-use and a planned unit development.

The project would be dubbed The Enclave at Southern Trails and would sit just north of the Lakes at Rabbit Run development currently being built along Olive.

Planning Commission members Robert Goranson, Jason Coan and Lee Whelpley voted to approve the rezoning and Jaylee Klempa, the commission’s chairwoman, voted against it. The rezoning request now goes before the Broken Arrow City Council on Oct. 4. 

The Commission did add a caveat with their vote that the cottage-home community must be gated.

A conceptual design of The Enclave at Southern Trails, with commerical and mixed-used development on the west and north sides and a cottage-home community behind.

The project, as it stands now, would include 145 cottage-style homes on 12 acres, with a maximum of 4 dwellings attached. Seven acres is reserved for commercial development and 1.25 acres is mixed zoning with no multi-family units allowed.

After reviewing the rezoning application, city staff recommended the Planning Commission approve it. 

Even though the request reduces some minimum setback requirements, lot frontages and screening fence requirements, “it provides a landscape buffer with evergreen trees along the abutting residential zoned properties, sets a maximum number of dwelling units and limits the height of the multi-family development to two stories,” the city said in a memo to the Planning Commission.

“In addition, a clubhouse is proposed on the PUD’s conceptual development plan. These features encourage innovative land development and help to assure appropriate limitation on the character and intensity of the use.”

The Planning Commission noted that the rezoning request is compliant with the city’s comprehensive plan, which was approved in 2019 and describes the development area as a “transition zone” that could fit a number of uses.

A representative for the developer said current zoning would have allowed for 100 more residential units and buildings higher than 2 stories, but the project was scaled back to soften its impact to the area.

Traffic, crime concerns

But it was clear at the meeting that most residents in the nearby neighborhoods of Nottingham and Rabbit Run are opposed to the project, especially the cottage homes. The developer admitted there had not been a meeting with residents about the plan before it was submitted.

The city received 31 forms signed by those opposing the project who didn’t want to speak at the meeting, and 49 online comments that were all in opposition. Several more voiced their displeasure at the meeting.

Many residents argued the cottage homes would bring a more transient population that could drive up crime, traffic and noise, as well as possibly increase overcrowding and service demands at nearby schools.

Nottingham HOA treasurer Penny Lange suggested a traffic study was needed at the intersection, since more developments are being built just east of The Enclave. Olive Avenue is only a two-lane road and only recently did the city add a left-turn lane on New Orleans Street east of the intersection.

Kristen Ward, president of the Nottingham HOA, said, “I think we’re all in agreement this is not in the best interest of the neighborhood.”

More concerns were voiced about the potential negative effect on property values, as is often the case when multi-family projects are proposed in Broken Arrow. But Klempa said the Planning Commission cannot take speculation into consideration when issuing recommendations.

Even developers of the Rabbit Run projects on Olive Avenue said they were angered by the proposal. Rabbit Run is 100% sold and The Lakes at Rabbit Run are nearly 80% committed.

'Do something special'

Bob Maddox, the original developer of Rabbit Run, said that property had been zoned originally as high-density apartments and entry-level houses, but he didn’t feel it was the right place for that. The property was annexed into Broken Arrow and the luxury downsizing option emerged, he said.

Maddox said many neighborhoods in Tulsa where apartments have been built have “turned into war zones” and he asked city leaders to avoid that.

“If we don’t learn from what’s happened we’re in serious trouble,” he said. “The city is going to lose sales taxes on this, which you don’t get with apartments. There is nothing good about apartments. They always turn out the same way. Class A comes, then Class B, then you have what you have in Tulsa. Don’t be a follower in Broken Arrow. Do something special.”

Goranson noted that Perkins’ plan shows conceptually what could be built and some details could be modified, but they can’t deviate from any PUD guidelines the city sets. A final site plan for the project still must be presented and approved.

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