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City Beat

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by Steven Diegel

With the Feb. 4 general elections behind it, City Council turned its collective eye toward the few items scheduled for discussion in another brief, yet productive, session Feb. 17.

Discussion for the evening centered around a number of annexation and rezoning issues, beginning with a proposal to annex more than 46 acres of land located near the intersection of West Bypass and Mt. Vernon Street.

City officials reported that the annexation has been requested by property owners who wish to be incorporated into the city.

"This is a voluntary annexation that the property owners have requested, " said Andrew Furedy, zoning administrator for the city of Springfield. "The annexation will be a logical extension of the city boundaries, and all city services can be extended to the boundary."

The overall cost of the annexation to the city should also be minimal, as a sewer trunk already extends to the area. Plans also call for the property to eventually be rezoned to single-family residential.

Council members also heard initial discussion on another ordinance which would rezone one acre of land located off South National Avenue between Woodland and Guinevere streets from residential to office zoning.

Developers plan to construct an office building for a family medical practice. They said plans are consistent with a similar structure located just south of the proposed site, and should provide an appropriate buffer between National Avenue and the neighboring residential development.

"We believe that this is a reasonable request," said Richard Bender, an attorney representing the developer. "The zoning is appropriate for this piece of land; those of you that will drive by it will agree that this is not appropriate" for residential development.

Area resident Jewel Chapman was present to voice her opinions on the measure. She cited traffic concerns for both National and neighboring Woodland Street, but said she did not oppose the addition of an office building at the site.

Traffic concerns for the National Avenue corridor were echoed by several council members, as well, in spite of plans calling for only one additional entrance situated opposite Rosebrier Street.

"I am concerned about what it is going to do to National Avenue," said Councilman Charlie Denison. "We don't need any more egresses onto National Avenue that is a congested area already."

In other business, a proposal to include escort services on the list of prohibited home occupations also received consideration at the meeting. City officials said the addition will help clarify the matter and avoid future problems with several area escort services operating out of the home.

No discussion took place on the issue, which council members are expected to explore further at the March 2 meeting.

Council members concluded the meeting with brief discussion on a proposal which authorizes the refinancing of certain city debt obligations, specifically for the Springfield-Branson Regional Airport improvement projects.

City officials reported the bill would allow the city to take advantage of declining interest rates to refinance more than $7.4 million in debt, saving in excess of $300,000.

"Essentially, when we issued debt to finish the new terminal building in 1990, interest rates were high," said Rob Hancik, director of the Springfield-Branson Regional Airport. "When the interest rates dropped, we were able to refinance at a lower rate, which saves about $300,000."

Hancik said the measure will also provide about $1.6 million toward improvements to the air cargo complex, including a 20,000-square-foot expansion to handle increased demand expected from future growth.

Council members applauded the efforts, and encouraged the city staff to take a look at refinancing other city debts at the lower interest rate.

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