Tahlequah’s Planning and Zoning Commission voted 3-2 Thursday to recommend rezoning a property for a bed-and-breakfast establishment.
City Clerk Deb Corn, who was at the meeting, told those on both sides of the issue the city council will consider the item on its March 22 special meeting agenda. The council will make the final decision on whether to rezone 1224 Garner from R-1, a residential zoning, to R-1 special use, to allow for the bed and breakfast.
People on both sides of the issue addressed the commission after Chairman Dr. Charles Carroll announced those who had new information or had not addressed the commission on the issue would be given three minutes to speak.
Carroll and members Jim Richardson and Carter Waldron voted to recommend rezoning. Members Kris Harris and Susan Ryals voted against the request.
Belinda Burnett, who has an accounting business in her home on Stick Ross Mountain Road, said her property faces the proposed bed and breakfast.
“I see no reason why it shouldn’t be approved,” she said. “The house is in bad disrepair, and they’d be forced to fix it and keep it up.”
Burnett said that to her knowledge, no one has complained about her business being in the neighborhood.
Another neighbor, Craig Clifford, said he’s stayed at bed-and-breakfast locations in other cities and has no problems with the one proposed on Garner Street.
Jack Reese was the first from the neighborhood to speak at the meeting in opposition to the proposal. His first issue concerned Waldron’s motion to approve the rezoning request at a previous meeting. The motion died for lack of a second, Reese said.
“Are you an electrician?” Reese asked Waldron.
“Yes,” Waldron answered.
Reese said Waldron should not be involved in considering the item, claiming he was working on the Garner property.
“I am not working for those people,” Waldron said.
Carroll told Reese the commission was there to listen to comments for or against the proposal, and Reese dropped the issue.
Reese, a former Planning and Zoning Commission member himself, said he had two daughters when he moved into the neighborhood and later had two more. He said he now has eight grandchildren. He said he has concerns about increased traffic flow in the area if a bed and breakfast is allowed.
He said at times, his grandchildren get in the street, and he would not want them hurt by someone driving to or from the bed and breakfast.
Carroll warned Reese more than once that he was exceeding his allotted three minutes.
“I’ve got 48 years invested in this,” Reese said. “I’m going to need more than three minutes.”
Reese said he spoke with Mary Geasland about her bed and breakfast in Tahlequah, and she indicated she averages 30 to 90 visitors a month.
“That’s 90 more cars driving through our neighborhood,” he said. “They’re trying to change our lifestyle.”
Reese said he never voted to allow a business in a residential area when he was on the commission. He urged current members to vote their conscience.
Cordelia Dixon, who with husband Steve is owner of the proposed bed and breakfast, said they have addressed all the neighbors’ concerns. She said the property has plenty of off-street parking.
“I think we’re being unfairly targeted [by some of the neighbors],” she said. “Change happens, whether it’s good or bad.”
Dixon said she and her husband have to do something with the property and can’t simply live there without the income from a bed and breakfast. She said they want to get along with neighbors and be part of the community.
“It’s not going to happen,” Reese said from his chair in the audience.
Lou Ann Tincher, another property owner in the area, said she loves change and has stayed in bed-and-breakfast locations before.
“I don’t want to see our neighborhood compromised by business,” she said.
Carroll also warned Tincher about speaking longer than the three-minute allotment. But she told Carroll he and others had longer than three minutes when they spoke to the Daily Press, referring to a story in the Wednesday edition on the Dixons’ plans.
“She’s gone to the newspaper,” Tincher said of Cordelia. “I didn’t know we could do that, or I would have done it.”
“I didn’t go to the paper; they came to me,” Dixon said.
“I called them [Thursday] morning, and they said you went to them,” Tincher said.
Carroll again reminded Tincher she had three minutes to speak on the issue.
“I don’t think you’re being fair,” she told Carroll, “just giving us three minutes.”
Carroll said he’s heard a lot of comment about the issue over the past three Planning and Zoning meetings. He said he did get some new information Thursday, but he didn’t believe there was anything left to hear, and called for a motion.
The commissioners also approved a lot split requested by Michael Corn for property at Chickasaw and Lee. Corn intends to split the 100-foot by 171-foot lot into three lots for new housing.
Preliminary hearings for Karl Baker’s request to rezone 112 W. Choctaw from C-1 to C-2 for a transmission re-building and auto repairs shop, and Brad Tullis’ request to rezone the corner of Monroe and Park Hill from R-2 to C-3 for a construction warehouse, were held. Both items were sent to the next meeting for a final hearing.