Council defers vote on preempting First Christian Church preservation review
A decision by the city council on overriding steps to protect First Christian Church from demolition has been put off.
Four city councilmen had proposed withdrawing an application to designate the 31.8-acre church property as a historic landmark overlay district.
City Manager Craig Freeman said at Tuesday’s Oklahoma City Council meeting that a vote on the measure would be deferred until May 21.
Oklahoma City’s Historic Preservation Commission had voted on April 3 to initiate the process of designating the property as a historic landmark.
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That can have the effect of blocking demolition for up to 180 days while the property’s suitability for historic preservation is reviewed.
At 3700 N Walker Ave., the church is recognizable by its white-domed sanctuary. The first services there were in the 1950s.
Historic preservation advocates and neighborhood residents have collected several thousand petition signatures expressing support for blocking demolition and preventing commercial redevelopment of the property, which occupies a portion of a former golf course.
The resolution to withdraw the zoning application is sponsored by Ward 1 Councilman James Greiner, Ward 4 Councilman Todd Stone, Ward 5 Councilman David Greenwell and Ward 8 Councilman Mark Stonecipher.
All four represent suburban neighborhoods some distance from the church, which is in Ward 2, a short distance north of downtown.
Ward 2 Councilman James Cooper had said he was highly disappointed that he was not consulted before the measure was added to Tuesday’s agenda. Cooper said he learned of it only when he read the agenda on Friday night.
A suburban northwest Oklahoma City church has indicated interest in acquiring First Christian as a satellite campus.
The city council met in executive session several weeks ago to discuss threatened litigation over the process of considering First Christian for historic landmark designation.
An attorney for the church told the council the process of considering the tract for designation as a historic landmark amounts to an attack on the church’s property rights.