MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

March 2, 2013

Blight finding worries: Residents say they need voice in process

(Continued)

— Buckley, Tucker and the urban renewal commissioner who represents Ward IV, within which the zone is located, tried to assuage concerns Green shares with some of his neighbors. All three said residents and property owners will be afforded opportunities to share their opinions during the planning process.

Tucker said while the recently adopted rules of decorum apply only to meetings of committees and authorities made up of city councilors, he would recommend allowing residents an opportunity to share concerns related to agenda items during Urban Renewal Authority meetings.

“My position is not to prohibit any discourse between the public and the authority at all — we are not trying to hide the ball on this,” Tucker said. “We just need to make sure it occurs when the agenda item is on the table so we don’t run afoul of the Open Meeting Act.”

Ward IV Commissioner Kelly Beach said he believes “public input will be very important, especially when it comes to property owners and homeowners who live in that area.”

“It’s definitely a concern of mine that there is public input, especially from homeowners in the area,” Beach said. Without it, “I can only guess what the property owners who came to the meeting need. Their presence shows they have some concern about what is going to happen.”

Beach, Buckley and Tucker said the planning process could take a year or more. Implementation of the plan, which officials say would be flexible and subject to change, could take a decade or longer.

“I want to see it developed,” Beach said of the targeted area. “But I want to see that the public has input and is treated fairly.”

Despite those assurances, Green remains skeptical about the future that lies ahead for him and his home.

“It’s just an area the city didn’t want to come in and take care of and now they want it for some reason,” Green said. “I feel like they are going to make it benefit somebody — somebody is going to benefit good.”

Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot@muskogeephoenix.com.

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