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NOT IN MY BACKYARD: Residents near West Portland Street are skeptical of another development in their area after experiencing lighting problems from the recently opened Menards.
SBJ file photo
NOT IN MY BACKYARD: Residents near West Portland Street are skeptical of another development in their area after experiencing lighting problems from the recently opened Menards.

City Beat: Residents wary of rezoning request near Menards

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A proposed property rezoning in west Springfield faced criticism from neighbors during City Council’s Feb. 11 meeting.

The council bill seeks to rezone 9 acres at 3851 W. Farm Road 148 to a medium density multifamily residential and general retail district from a neighborhood commercial district. The first-reading bill also includes a clause to concurrently annex the property into the city.

Located near the intersection of Sunshine Street and West Bypass, the property is owned by A&R Property Developers LLC.

Springfield Planning and Development Director Mary Lilly Smith said the rezoning serves as a transition between the commercial activity at the nearby Menards and the residential district, which is just outside city limits.

The front of the property along University Street would be used for commercial purposes with a 193-unit maximum multifamily development behind it, according to city documents. The site is the former location of a mobile home park, next to Menards on West Sunshine Street.

Heithaus Engineering & Associates Inc. representative Teresa Davidson said she met with residents about issues they had with Menards when the property was being rezoned for the home improvements store.

“One of their main concerns with Menards was the lighting, so we had discussed in this case the owner knew what he was purchasing,” Davidson said.

The maximum density for the project is 193 units, mostly one and two bedrooms.

Michael Hampton of Arkifex Studios LLC said the two-story development’s buildings would total 10,000-12,000 square feet.

West Portland Street resident Dennis Perry told council he would appreciate a traffic study in the area.

“You’re talking 35 feet from our property line and not much else there,” he said. “I’ve got more room between my rear deck and my fence. That’s kind of the crux of my argument. I’m going to have a two-story building looking down on me from 35 feet.”

Nearby resident Ben Dalton said he wanted to keep the quaint aesthetic of the neighborhood and that the development should match its surroundings.

“We’ve done a lot since our neighborhood meeting in November to really address some of the concerns of the citizens and primarily it’s that boundary on the north and west lots,” Hampton said.

Smith said trees on the north and west property lines will remain.

“We’ll do our best adding as many trees and maintaining the trees that are existing,” Hampton added.

A&R Properties is owned by Richard Kramer, according to officials with his other company, Rich Kramer Construction Inc.

The bill is scheduled for a vote Feb. 25. If approved, a traffic study is required by the new conventional overlay district, according to city documents.

Rezoning roundup
Project Collective LLC, owned by Jason Finley, Brian Stewart and Shannon McMurdo, seeks to rezone 2.27 acres at 3411 S. Kansas Ave. for a multifamily apartment complex with a density limit of 18 units per acre.

Project Collective is only changing the site plan at Walnut Lawn and Kansas Avenue from an original request in March 2018 and the property would remain low density multifamily, according to developer representatives and city documents.

Representing the developer, Brent Stevens, an architect with architecture firm H Design Group LLC, told council the new design calls for one building instead the original proposal of two. The complex would have a maximum of 40 units, according to city documents.

Smith said all access to the property would be via Walnut Lawn.

Councilman Mike Schilling asked about traffic concerns on Walnut Lawn. Stevens said it shouldn’t be an issue due to the target demographic being seniors.

Finley’s Project Collective developed The Edge gated community at Walnut Lawn and Kimbrough Avenue and his other company, Finley Homes LLC, acted as general contractor for student housing project Pad Madison in 2015.

A mixed-use development plan by Pickwick and Cherry LLC, spanning nine addresses at Pickwick Avenue and Cherry Street, is seeking rezoning to a planned development district from high density multifamily and limited business districts.

The mixed-use development in the Roundtree neighborhood is designed with 16 dwelling units per acre and single-use businesses limited to 7,500 square feet, according to city documents. Smith said the overall usage is capped at 20,000 square feet.

Another rezoning for nearly 7 acres of property at 1630 W. Republic Road to general retail from single-family residential also was brought before council. The applicant, Southland Christian Church, is requesting the zoning so a landscaping “bufferyard” to the west is not required should the church sell the property for development. Per city documents, a bufferyard is required to improve an appearance and provide natural stormwater detention when more intensive uses are allowed adjacent.

Geoffrey Butler of BRP Architects, who represented the church, said the rezoning to general retail is in anticipation of a property sale.

“Eventually they figure they’ll outgrow their church and need to sell the property,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s five years from now, 10 years from now or 20 years from now, but that corner will be developed commercially.”

Butler said the church plans to share its parking lot, and a bufferyard would eliminate existing parking space.

Council members raised questions about rezoning a property for a possible future use before a land sale is imminent.

All rezonings are scheduled for vote on Feb. 25.

Other actions
Council unanimously voted to accept a $305,975 grant from the Missouri Division of Workforce Development in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funds.

Springfield Workforce Development Assistant Director Sally Payne told council $196,900 would go toward running the SkillUp Missouri program locally – which provides skills, job training and employer connections for food-stamp recipients – with $109,075 for a summer youth program in the city.

“It will allow for 77 slots,” she said of the summer youth program, which currently has about 45 participants signed up.

Additionally, Payne said the grant funds would train 20-30 participants in the SkillUp program. Payne pointed to 1,200 job postings currently on Jobs.Mo.gov in the Springfield area that graduates of the SkillUp program could fill.

Also unanimously approved was an ordinance to amend the encroachments on the city property section of city code to allow bicycle docks for Springfield Bike Share on city right-of-way.

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