Neighbors to file appeal against County for approving Tulsa Girls Home

Last week’s Creek County Board of Adjustment meeting starkly contrasted the body’s usual monthly meetings, which are held in a small, first-floor room in the Collins Building and are presided over by a 5-person Board. The bulk of applications (though certainly, not all) pass without drama and are most likely forgotten soon thereafter by all but the applicant.

December’s meeting, however, was an exception. The Planning Office was inundated with calls, concerns, questions, visits, letters, and emails over an application by Tulsa Girls Home to grant a variance to allow up to 8 girls ages 14-18 to occupy a residence in a group home setting on a 5-acre ranch off Teel Road and Kevin Lane in Sapulpa.

The County anticipated the fractured and emotional crowd the controversial application would bring, and smartly moved the meeting upstairs to the much larger Collins Ballroom. As expected, in addition to local press coverage, Tulsa news stations were in attendance, along with neighbors of the property and supporters of the applicant, including a plethora of Creek County first responders, such as Fire Chief David Taylor, among many other supporters.

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Ultimately, the application passed unanimously, and Tulsa Girls Home’s leaders and supporters had a chance to take a breath and begin to focus on their next steps.

The front of the Tulsa Girls Home, currently hoping to open in February. Neighbors say they’re planning to file an appeal to the Creek County Board of Adjustment, which approved the needed variance for the home to open.

Despite this apparent resolution, a member of the opposition appeared at Monday morning’s regular Board of County Commissioners meeting during the time for public comments to announce that she and “98% of the neighbors” would be filing an appeal to the CCBOA’s decision. County resident and neighbor Teresa Jennings said that the group retained attorney Greg Mayhue, who advised them to notify the Board of their intent to appeal the decision.

Reiterating concerns aired by others at the CCBOA meeting, Jennings said, “We have an issue with a business being approved inside of a single-family area…We have lived here for 38 years and are not opposed to the home, just the business that will be running out of the property. There are horses on the property to offer equine therapy.”

Jennings also said that the neighbors are concerned about what exactly a variance entails and whether or not it would carry on with a new owner.

The Board, with Assistant District Attorney Andrew Goforth, explained that County zoning is different than that of municipalities’. The variance or use ceases when the requestor is no longer at the residence “using the use,” so to speak.

District #1 Commissioner Newt Stephens further said that the statutes differ between foster care homes and group homes. “The language is different and the laws that they follow are different.” If [TGH] were to only have six kids, they would not have had to have come before the BOA, they could have just operated as normal with those kids. “I hope that this turns out great and that kids’ lives are changed,” Stephens concluded.

There was a brief discussion of an upcoming funding event being hosted by TGH at the property and the neighbors’ concerns that the parking situation will create unsafe conditions on the road. The Board encouraged Jennings to speak with the Planning Office over any additional concerns in the future or, if they had immediate problems, to contact the Sheriff’s Office.