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Springfield, MO

City Beat: Council adds $2M for capital improvements

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Springfield City Council on Oct. 30 unanimously adopted a resolution that will add $2.3 million in project funds to the Capital Improvements Program over the next five years.

Director of Planning and Development Mary Lilly Smith, who presented the amendment, said council in February approved the current program for 2017–2022. The amendment of six projects adds to the 111 capital improvement projects totaling $83 million for the current fiscal year, according to city documents.

“We’re proposing an amendment to the adopted Capital Improvements Program to add some projects that are proposed for funding through the (Community Development Block Grant) reallocation program,” Smith said at the meeting. “You’ll recall that we have some money in our commercial loan program.”

Springfield has operated a commercial loan program since 1984, according to its website. Capitalized by the CDBG program, all loans must be used to further the priorities of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – creating jobs that benefit low-income persons or removing slum and blight.

“HUD has indicated that we need to spend some of that down so that we don’t have such a large balance,” Smith said, adding the $2.29 million would need to be used by March 31, 2018.

The new funding will cover improvements at four parks – Cooper, Meador, Nichols and Tom Watkins – to update playground equipment, benches, park signage, tennis courts and walking trails. In addition, funding would allow for sidewalk improvements at 11 sites: six different segments in Zone 1 and Zone 2, and another five if adequate funding is available after other projects are complete.

Councilmen Tom Prater and Craig Hosmer did not vote on the capital improvements amendment because they were absent from the meeting.

A substitute resolution failed due to the passing of the six new projects. It would have allowed for Jordan Creek stormwater improvements in lieu of the sidewalk improvements, according to city council documents.

“The original bill had the Jordan Creek stormwater improvements on it,” Smith said. “As we’ve indicated to you in a memo that went out on Oct. 4, those improvements won’t be able to be completed in the required timeframe for spending this money.”

Vet clinic debate
Council also considered the rezoning of 1.71 acres generally located at 1650 S. Ingram Mill Road. Currently zoned as a planned development, the purchase of the property is contingent on its rezoning to a general retail district.

Smith told council members the newly proposed use of a veterinary clinic is not permitted in the current zoning. She also noted Ingram Mill is a collector street and access to Sunshine Street is ride-in, ride-out only.

Voicing traffic concerns, Councilwoman Kristi Fulnecky said, “That’s just a tough area for people that work around there.”

The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission recommended the rezoning, but Mayor Ken McClure still had concerns.

“It looks like the vote from the Planning and Zoning Commission was 4-2,” McClure said.

Then the conversation turned to P&Z protocols.

McClure questioned the six-vote tally, when there should be nine P&Z members voting. Smith confirmed there are nine members, and explained the recommendation was a majority vote for only those present.

“It’s tough for us when we don’t have a good majority of those people in attendance,” said Councilman Richard Ollis, while asking about P&Z’s attendance requirements.

Smith responded that P&Z commissioners cannot miss more than three meetings in a row.

Brent Green, representing Ingram Woods Office Condominiums at 1615 S. Ingram Mill Road, addressed council in opposition to the rezoning. Green’s law office at Evans & Green LLP is across the road from the proposed area.

“I believe there’s not sufficient infrastructure at this location to support this retail development,” Green said. “We have some really good businesses at 1615 S. Ingram Mill, and we have one heck of a time getting people in and out.”

The narrow parcel stretches behind the sound barrier on the west side of U.S. Highway 65, north of a shopping center at Sunshine Street and Ingram Mill Road. Across Ingram Mill to the west sits the Sun Chase Condominiums apartment complex and Ingram Woods Office Condominiums.

Additionally, Geoffrey Butler of Butler, Rosenbury & Partners Inc. represented the applicant and property owner, ICT LLC, according to Greene County assessor records. Kenneth Morris is listed as the company’s registered agent and organizer.

“Their road system out there sucks,” Butler acknowledged, adding the potential buyers looked at other areas for their veterinary clinic, but decided on this property.

He declined to disclose the potential buyer.

Council will vote on the rezoning at the next council meeting, Nov. 13.

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