, Muskogee, OK

August 10, 2013

Ordinance could change landscape

— Planning and Zoning commissioners must push through some kind of reform to change the landscape of a decaying Muskogee.

The commissioners last week delayed action on a proposed ordinance that would impose duties upon the owners of some vacant commercial buildings.

Commissioners held a public hearing last week and heard from many in favor of the ordinance.

Commissioners expressed concerns about parts of the ordinance that some see as too onerous.

Commissioners were right to delay action.

They need sufficient time to consider all angles of the ordinance.

The ordinance must be fair, but it must have teeth.

The commissioners have time to seek more opinion and with it, more options.

But the commissioners can’t ignore the obvious need for some kind of reform.

The best example of the need for some movement sits in the middle of downtown.

The Hunt’s building appears to be falling down.

And it has been in that condition for a long time.

It is a hindrance to economic growth and fast becoming a safety hazard for foot traffic.

Yes, the proposed ordinance needs to be carefully considered.

We don’t want years of legal challenges (see portable sign ban).

We don’t want to drive business owners from downtown because they can’t afford the proposal's provisions.

Some say there are other remedies to the problem already available. If so, they appear to have little affect.

The commission can take some time to work out any real kinks in the proposed ordinance.

But they should not gut it so it looks as empty as the Hunt’s building.