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City Beat: Council hears rezoning bills for apartments, hotel

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Springfield City Council at its Dec. 11 meeting considered the controversial prohibition of pit bull dogs, several streetscape projects and three back-to-back bills for rezonings covering 15 acres.

Presented by Springfield Planning and Development Director Mary Lilly Smith, the first rezoning bill would change roughly 6.5 acres at 611 E. Sunset Ave. to a medium-density, multifamily residential district from a single-family residential district. Plans for a 112-unit apartment building are contingent on the rezoning.

Council documents list the applicants as Coryell Enterprises LLC and E&M Edgewood LLC. Sam M. Coryell, owner of Coryell Enterprises, could not be reached for comment by deadline.

A second bill would rezone 3.2 acres generally located at 1220 E. Lark St. to a planned development district No. 360 from a planned development district No. 84. Geoffrey Butler of Butler, Rosenbury & Partners LLP told Springfield Business Journal that State Bank of Southwest Missouri Inc. currently owns the property south of the National Avenue and Republic Road intersection.

A planned development district, No. 360, according to council documents, allows for temporary lodging uses, including hotels. Butler, who represented State Bank at the meeting, said an undisclosed developer is interested in building a hotel there, but the purchase of the property hinges on the rezoning.

“They’re still working on their franchise. Until that is served up, it’s pure speculation,” Butler said, noting if plans move forward, the hotel, no matter the flag, likely would have about 120 rooms across five stories.

The third bill would rezone 5 acres at Kansas Expressway and Kearney Street to a highway commercial district. It also would establish a conditional overlay district No. 137, from a highway commercial district with a conditional overlay district No. 24. Smith said the change to No. 137 would prohibit certain uses the Planning and Zoning Commission felt were no longer appropriate for the intersection’s magnitude, including outdoor storage and vehicular trailer sales.

Springfield developer James Tillman, according to SBJ reporting, owns the property. In late October, Tillman purchased 3.5 acres at the southeast corner of Kansas and Kearney listed for $1.8 million. In addition, Tillman bought out the adjacent residential block – about 12 parcels ranging in price between $25,000 and $70,000.

“We’re looking at a situation where the developer has assembled a significant amount of property,” Smith said. “They’re looking at a community-scale commercial center development here.”

Tillman in October said Kum & Go was interested in the corner spot. He also mentioned the possibility of Scooter’s Coffee or Starbucks, though he was still working on securing tenants.

Council will vote on the three rezonings at its next meeting, Jan. 16, following the holiday break.

Queen City upkeep
Council also unanimously approved the Grant Avenue and Route 66 Streetscape Project, accepting the $954,313 bid of Hunter Chase & Associates Inc. The project will complete improvements along Grant Avenue, between Olive and Walnut Street. With estimated completion in August 2018, according to Springfield Communication Coordinator Kristen Milam, project plans include the construction of new sidewalks and storm sewers, the replacement of gas and water pipes, and signal improvements where Grant intersects Walnut and College streets.

Council also unanimously approved the 2017 Sidewalk Project, accepting a second bid from Hunter Chase & Associates in the amount of $137,798. Plans include the construction of new sidewalks along West Grand Street, East Central Street, West Commercial Street, East Turner Street and North Jefferson Avenue. The project is estimated to be completed by early March 2018, Milam said.

Council members also heard two first-reading bills for improvements for the National Avenue and Bennett Street Signal Replacement Project and the James River Interceptor Sewer Gate Replacement Project.

The first would accept a $102,324 bid by Ewing Signal Construction LLC for the replacement of existing signal equipment and sidewalk improvements to meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards. It’s expected to be voted on either Dec. 19 or Jan. 16, according to Mayor Ken McClure. The second would accept the $236,750 bid of Oke-Thomas and Associates LLC for the replacement of 12 sluice gates installed at each end of the James River trunk sewer main, which crosses under Lake Springfield in three locations and pumps sewage into the Southwest Water Treatment Plant. The project also would make improvements to the access hatches for the six structures housing the gates and ensure that regular maintenance of the trunk sewer main crossings continues. The project will be voted on Jan. 16.

Pit bull repeal
In response to council’s October decision to prohibit pit bull dogs in the city, the city clerk’s office Nov. 20 verified 2,269 signatures by residents who sought a repeal. The number of signatures needed was 2,228.

Brought before council, members considered repealing the pit bull ban, but it was upheld by a 5-4 vote. Councilmembers then considered putting the decision in the hands of city residents.

Mayor McClure said he voted in favor of the pit bull dog ban originally, but he now believed it was time for the citizens to vote.

“Let’s make the decision collectively as a community,” he said.

A move to let Springfieldians vote on the ban at the polls Aug. 7, 2018, passed 8-1. Councilwoman Kristi Fulnecky was the lone vote in opposition but only because she thought it could be decided sooner, suggesting the April ballot.

“I think it’s a slap in the face to wait until August when we could do this in April,” Fulnecky said, noting she was glad Springfield residents took an active role and found their voices to speak out on the matter.

Her motion to move the vote to an earlier date did not pass.

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