B&B restrictions rejected

Robert Smith rsmith@pawhuskajournalcapital.com

Bill Todd, chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission, on March 12 told the Pawhuska City Council he thinks the city needs to do something to get a handle on the manner in which bed-and-bath operations are established and operated in residential neighborhoods.

“I think they’re a good item,” Todd said, but he added that city government currently has no control. He briefly addressed concerns about whether the city is receiving appropriate tax revenues, a lack of oversight regarding health issues and fire safety issues and parking along residential streets.

“We will require a (guest) register,” Todd said.

Mayor Roger Taylor said he thinks people living in the immediate vicinity of any residential structure being converted for use as a bed-and-bath should be told what is happening. The thrust of Todd’s presentation was to advocate establishing legal control over the bed-and-baths in residential neighborhoods without having to rezone them as commercial property.

The council took no action, with Ward 2 councilor Steve Holcombe advocating that the Planning and Zoning Commission revisit the issue and seek additional public comment.

Councilor John Brazee said he would hate for anyone to lose their business because of a restriction against on-street parking.

Local businessman Hank Benson said he thinks the bed-and-bath operations are filling a gap in the Pawhuska market caused by the shortage of hotel rooms. Once someone develops a hotel with enough space to serve visitors to the city, the market will take care of itself, he said.

The March 12 council discussion of bed-and-baths is not the first time Todd has presented his concerns on the issue. He addressed the council in August 2017, noting that with the opening of The Pioneer Woman Mercantile, the city had begun to flourish. The council took no action at that point, either.

The council also took no action March 12 on a proposal to allow the off-highway use in Pawhuska of golf carts, but not ATVs, on the city streets. It was explained to councilors that with the proliferation of B&Bs, golf carts would help to provide visitors to the city with transportation that would contribute less to congestion than more cars and trucks.

Questions arose, however, about a proposed minimum age of 21 years for golf cart operators.

“I’m all for it if we lower the driver’s age,” Brazee said.

Police Chief Rex Wikel didn’t oppose the golf-cart proposal, but he did say he thinks the carts should have headlights, tail lights and license plates. He also said he thinks the council needs to look at mandating liability insurance.

“That’s what I want you to really think about,” Wikel said regarding insurance.