Thursday 24 Jul
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OKG Newsletter

Letters to the Editor

Fair price

Anthony Francisco February 27th, 2013

I read with interest your account of the withdrawal by the city of Oklahoma City of an application to rezone major areas of the JFK neighborhood (News, “Zoning out,” Jerry Bohnen, Feb. 13, Oklahoma Gazette) to a Planned Unit Development (PUD) for the expansion of the Oklahoma Health Center (OHC), speaking collectively of the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Presbyterian Health Complex, the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority and related entities.

You accurately depict the feeling of a temporary victory in a battle in a long war for the neighborhood, but I’m not sure you captured the flavor of the war itself. I attended several community meetings held by the JFK Neighborhood Association and those hosted by OKC, and I attended the OKC Planning Commission meetings at which the proposed PUD was considered, delayed and then withdrawn. The prevailing opinion that I heard from the denizens of JFK in those meetings was not one of “stopping the rezoning” (although that opinion was stated) but rather one of making sure the remaining residents, churches and businesses in the area were fairly compensated for their property as the OHC expansion naturally progresses.

Representatives of OHC stated rather overtly that the reason behind the proposed rezoning was to protect the property values in the area from price escalation due to residential land speculation. In other words, OHC wanted to keep neighborhood land prices down in the short term until they got ready to buy the property for longer-term development. By limiting the potential development uses of the land, this would have been an effective taking of property without taking the property. Property owners rightly objected to this.

I think OHC can achieve their goals by dealing fairly, openly and honestly with property owners who are willing to sell. Many residents are willing to move if given adequate financial compensation for their property to enable relocation to equal or better housing.

The fact is that Urban Renewal or other OHC-related entities already own 65 percent or more of the property in the proposed PUD area. Given the recent purchase price of the adjoining Presbyterian Health Foundation property or other recent purchases of adjoining residential properties by OHC, OHC can afford to buy the properties of the remaining willing sellers in the area if they choose to.

—Anthony Francisco, Oklahoma City

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