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The Ridge developer is seeking to rezone roughly 6 acres at Campbell Avenue and Weaver Road.
SBJ graphic by Wes Hamilton
The Ridge developer is seeking to rezone roughly 6 acres at Campbell Avenue and Weaver Road.

Council takes first looks at The Ridge development plan

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Two bills on Springfield City Council’s July 30 meeting docket represent the first steps for city approvals needed to start a 100-acre, $500 million planned development in far south Springfield.

A small rezoning request and the overall preliminary plat approval are part of RW Developments LLC’s plans to create The Ridge at Ward Branch – 60 acres of mixed-use commercial and multifamily, and 40 acres for a senior living community – southeast of the James River Freeway and Campbell Avenue interchange.

The preliminary plat for 90 acres was approved with an 8-0 vote covering all consent agenda items. Councilman Craig Hosmer was absent.

On the rezoning, applicant Ward Branch Enterprises LLC seeks to change 6.2 acres at 4833 S. Campbell Ave., at the northwest corner of the Weaver Road intersection, to a multifamily residential district. It’s currently zoned for retail.

City planners recommend capping the density to 11 duplexes per acre, Springfield Planning & Development Director Mary Lilly Smith told council last night. The zoning proposal restricts traffic access to Weaver, and it would keep intact a tree line that serves as a buffer between the Wellington Hills neighborhood directly west.

“That greenbelt will truly stay a greenbelt,” said developer representative Jared Rasmussen of engineering firm Olsson Associates Inc. “This rezoning is part of the larger subdivision, The Ridge at Ward Branch, that was approved as part of the consent [agenda].”

Even with the restrictions, adjacent property owner Charles Dischinger told council he’s concerned the development would push floodwaters into his home.

“Each development is only a little bit more. But each development is making the situation that much worse,” Dischinger said, referencing Ward Branch overflow in 2000 that brought the water line over Weaver Road before stopping at his garage door.

Rasmussen said engineers estimate the development plans would increase water flow in the area by 2.4 percent.

“When we’re talking about water coming down Ward Branch, that’s a thimble in a bucket,” he told council. “It raises the floodplain elevation about a half an inch.”

Dischinger said his property, at 702 W. Farm Road 178, is the last remaining single-family home on the south side of Weaver before the large Stone Meadow subdivision to the west. It sits just inside the Ward Branch floodplain.

“He’s talking about only a thimble-full more of water,” Dischinger said of Rasmussen’s analogy. “But when the glass is full, a thimble full more in the glass is going to cause it to spill over.”

City Councilwoman Kristi Fulnecky told Dischinger she’d contact him to help in his position.

Dischinger requested council delay action on the rezoning, particularly for him to get an updated appraisal while city officials and the developer consider a buyout for the land.

Mayor Ken McClure moved to extend the public hearing to the Aug. 13 council meeting. It passed unanimously.

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