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City Beat: Council hears OTC rezoning

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City Council on March 11 heard a rezoning proposal for multiple properties owned by Ozarks Technical Community College for a proposed campus expansion.

The rezoning would change the properties to a governmental and institutional use district from limited business and residential townhouse districts and consolidate the properties into one zoning district.

The properties, 1116 and 1120 E. Pythian St., 922-933 N. Florence Ave. and 941 N. National Ave., are planned for surface parking.

The parking is related to OTC’s planned Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Technology, a $20 million project funded by a voter-approved measure in April 2018 for new and renewed tax levies over a 20-year period.

“All of these improvements are part of a long-range plan to open the Center for Advanced Manufacturing in the fall of 2022,” said Mark Miller, director of communications for OTC. “While the Center for Advanced Manufacturing is still in the planning phase, we do know that its location will most likely take up some parking spaces and we need to make plans to replace those spaces.”

The center is planned to the west and south of the Industry and Transportation Technology Center, where parking currently exists, according to the request for qualifications by OTC.

The new parking lot development would create about 72 parking spaces and 12 spots for school buses, Miller said.

“It’s an area we’ve owned,” Miller said, adding the school owns property south of Silver Springs Park along South Hampton Avenue. “A lot of that will become parking eventually.”

The properties up for rezoning are located to the north of OTC’s Industry Transportation and Technology Center. The acreage is a mix of existing parking lot space, vacant land and duplexes slated for demolition, according to city documents.

“This is just a continuation of plans for OTC to continue consolidating the campus and getting things zoned the way the city wants them to be zoned based off our comprehensive plan,” said Jonathan Staats, a traffic engineer at CJW Transportation Consultants LLC, representing OTC before council.

Council adopted the school’s master plan as an element of the city’s comprehensive plan 2010, according to city documents.

Council members Matthew Simpson and Mike Schilling recused themselves ahead of the March 25 scheduled rezoning vote, citing their employment at the college.

Earlier this month, OTC broke ground on a $7.3 million education center in Republic, named Bussey-Cox-Lipscomb Hall. The 30,000-square-foot facility also is funded by the tax levies.

Unanimous rezonings
Council unanimously approved three rezonings and tabled a fourth.

A mixed-use development plan by Pickwick and Cherry LLC, which spans nine properties at Pickwick Avenue and Cherry Street, was rezoned to a planned development district from high-density multifamily and limited business districts.

Pickwick and Cherry LLC’s development in the Rountree neighborhood calls for 16 dwelling units per acre. Should the developers add commercial space, the city’s comprehensive plan caps individual business tenants at 7,500 square feet and 20,000 square feet of total commercial space.

Another project made a slight deviation from its original plans. Project Collective LLC, organized by Jason Finley, Brian Stewart and Shannon McMurdo, had its site plan changes approved by council from its original proposal in March 2018 for 2.27 acres at 3411 S. Kansas Ave.

The group is planning a multifamily apartment complex with a maximum of 40 units and a target demographic of seniors. Original plans called for two buildings, but the developers revised it to a single building.

On the southwest side of town, Southland Christian Church received approval to rezone 7 acres at 1630 W. Republic Road to general retail from single-family residential. With the move, a landscaping “bufferyard” is no longer required on the west side of the property.

The rezoning is in anticipation of a property sale when the congregation outgrows in the church, according to Geoffrey Butler of BRP Architects, who represented the church during the bill’s first reading in February.

Opioid crisis grant
Council approved a $120,000 grant from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services to support public health opioid crisis response activities in Springfield.

The funds will be used for mitigation and counter measures to the opioid crisis, said Katie Towns, assistant director of health for the city.

She said the city partners with the Discovery Center, Community Partnership of the Ozarks, Safe and Sober and the first responder community to combat opioid use.

The plan, Towns said, is to focus on education and upstream interventions that target youths and first responders.

“Mental health and substance abuse has been identified as one of the priority health issues for our community and we have spent the last year and a half studying this issue in order to better understand and provide resources to respond to folks that need additional help,” she told council.

The grant is federally funded by reimbursement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to city documents.

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