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City Beat: Council approves Galloway CID; tax vote next

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Springfield City Council voted unanimously Aug. 12 to establish a community improvement district for the Galloway Village neighborhood, triggering an associated sales tax vote by residents for the next step.

Proposed by Galloway developer Green Circle Projects LLC and city officials, the 20-year CID covers roughly 87 acres in southeast Springfield along the Lone Pine corridor between Battlefield and Republic roads.

“We’re excited about the future of Galloway and think the CID will be a valuable mechanism for enhancing the Lone Pine corridor in line with the wishes of the district’s businesses and property owners,” said Green Circle spokesman Matt Wagner via email.

With the CID in place, district residents now will vote on a 1% sales tax on retail sales to fund public improvements and beautification, walkability and safety improvements. The CID tax would have to be approved by voters before implementation. City officials referred questions about the ballot timeline to Green Circle Projects, and Wagner said the ballots would be mailed to district residents.

“The board will determine the timeline for casting ballots, a process that typically takes about 12 weeks and will be administered by the Greene County clerk,” he said.

If approved, the tax is expected to generate $30,000-$40,000 annually. The goal of the CID, according to city documents, is creating jobs and an interest for additional development in Galloway, increasing tax revenues, and improving parking and infrastructure.

Council first heard the CID proposal at a luncheon in June. The petition for the CID received signatures from 52% of property owners in the district, representing 85% of the total assessed value of district property. City documents show the district had a total assessed value of all real property of $1.74 million as of March 2018.

Recent projects in the Galloway area include the $14 million, mixed-use development Quarry Town by Green Circle Projects and the $7.7 million, 46,000-square-foot Galloway Creek development by Galloway Creek Development Group LLC.

Projects that could be funded by the sales tax include public right-of-way improvements along South Lone Pine Avenue, construction of additional parking, holiday lighting and decorations, and additional police and security services, according to city documents.

The council vote also approved an initial CID board of governors comprising 15 members made up of property and business owners and a Springfield-Greene County Park Board representative.

“We’re in the process of scheduling the first meeting later this month to elect officers and adopt bylaws,” Wagner said.

The Galloway Village Neighborhood Association can choose to have one appointed, nonvoting representative on the board, who would be confirmed by the current board members. Association President Marcie Kirkup said Galloway resident Melanie Bach is in line for that spot.

Future board members would be appointed by the mayor with consent from council. The board can have a maximum of 30 members, according to city documents.

Galloway resident concerns
In a separate situation in Galloway, the moratorium on development expired Aug. 2, and city staff recommendations are scheduled to go before Springfield Planning and Zoning Commission on Aug. 15. [Editor’s note: Planning and Zoning voted against recommending the staff suggestions to council.]

The recommendations will cover improving traffic flow and safety, and street parking along with addressing flooding and safety of the Galloway Creek Trail, according to city documents.

“One of the big misconceptions is that we are anti-development and that couldn’t be further from the truth,” said Kirkup, a Galloway resident for five years. “We are for reasonable development that fits the character of the village.”

A conditional overlay district could give boundaries for future development, Kirkup said.

“We want a plan, not a conversation about each piece of property,” she said.

Kirkup hopes development doesn’t diminish the residential district zonings that make up a majority of the neighborhood.

Another member of the association, Wendy Huscher, said the area needs additional single-family residences. Huscher lives and works at 3417 S. Lone Pine Ave., where she’s run About Faces Photography Inc. since the early 1990s.

Other concerns for residents are flooding issues, parking and preserving the history and topography of the area.

Kirkup said the topography in Galloway, with a valley in the middle of the neighborhood, complicates requirements for building heights. Neighborhood association members would like a two-story height restriction on buildings in the valley.

There are still large parcels of land available in the Galloway area, Kirkup said, pointing to an 82-acre field between James River Freeway and Republic Road.

“It just came out of a 50-year trust where it was locked up,” Kirkup said, referring to the June 2018 action.

Greene County assessor records list Kevin Hawkins as the property owner, and Greene County recorder of deeds filings identify the Mabel G. Hayes Trust as the trust grantor.

Kirkup said the field is coarse and has sinkholes on it.

“The real issue here is how landlocked it is,” she added.

Another 73-acre parcel, owned by Childress Family LP, sits between Independence Street and Republic Road, according to Greene County assessor records.

The neighborhood association would like to see a portion of the remaining parcels developed into long-term family housing.

“Eighty-seven acres could turn into a beautiful neighborhood,” Huscher said, also pointing to the 138-unit Township 28 apartment complex, built in 2016 by Sam M. Coryell, as an exemplary development. “It was destined to fit into the character. It has that unique, eclectic feel.”

While land is still available for development, residents are wary of some tactics used by possible developers.

Kirkup said messages via email and text have been sent to residents by a person only identified as “Kevin.” Association members say the name is possibly a pseudonym.

The messages prey on the trusting nature of the older residents, Kirkup said, and attempt to convince the residents that selling their properties is in their best financial interest.

“There are citizens who are being strongly encouraged to sell and we’re deeply concerned about the way that’s happening,” she said.

“It feels like some of the residents in our area are being targeted by people who want to turn a profit.”

Other council news
Council considered a continuation of the one-eighth cent transportation sales tax on Aug. 12.

The tax was initiated by voters in November 1996 and was most recently reapproved in April 2016.

“The sunset timeline is the one real change,” Public Works Director Dan Smith told council members. “Being a continuation, there would be no increase in sales taxes.”

Smith said the transportation sales tax would generate $22 million in the first four years for voter-approved projects and programs. It has previously funded the intersection improvements at Glenstone Avenue and Primrose Street, Battlefield and the U.S. Highway 65 interchange, and the Grand Street bridge west of Kansas Expressway, Smith said.

Proposed projects for the tax include trail improvements and road improvements to National Avenue at Walnut Lawn Street and Battlefield, and the intersection of Campbell Avenue and Walnut Lawn, according to city documents.

A vote is scheduled for a special City Council meeting on Aug. 20.

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