April 28, 2011, The Oklahoma Planning Commission after allowing three months of continuances in favor of Goodwill Industries and listening to hours of testimony voted to deny Goodwill’s application for a special use permit. The permit would have allowed Goodwill Industries to operate a recycling center three hundred feet from the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial at 5th and Hudson. Though Goodwill Industries was resoundingly defeated, it could renew the application process before the Oklahoma City Council where it is expected to flex its multi-billion dollar charity muscle. The Oklahoma City Design Committee and the Oklahoma City Planning Commission have turned thumbs down on Goodwill, however, the giant charity is expected to make a big fight at the City Council level and pull in all political chips to get its way. Goodwill plans to ram a recycling center down the protesting throats of all Oklahoma City citizens.
One hundred percent of the surrounding property owners protested the special use permit and it was revealed in arguments before the Planning Commission that the City of Oklahoma City had previously entered into a side deal with Goodwill Industries to fund Goodwill’s recycling activities through U.S. stimulus funds without the need for the downtown recycling center having been studied. In the words of Joe Warren, objecting property owner, six million dollars in stimulus funds were looking for a place to land. Under questioning from the Planning Commission, Goodwill Industries Board members could not give a straight answer about a “needs evaluation” regarding the location of the downtown recycling center. Consequently Planning Commission Board Members rejected the arguments of Goodwill Industries and denied its plea for a special use permit. The board members in a vote, 7-2, said that the recycling center should be built somewhere other than in the Downtown Business District.
Arguing for the permit were the board members of Goodwill industries represented by silk stocking corporate legal counsel and arguing against the permit were the volunteer board members of the Park Plaza Development District, represented by Rick Dowell. Arguing in their personal capacities, Joe Warren, landowner, Robert Robles, landowner, and the owners of the Regency Towers. Leonard Sullivan, County Assessor, argued that the recycling center was inappropriate so near the bombing memorial.