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 process 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 during the rezoning public hearing. The zoning proposal restricts traffic access to Weaver, and the developers 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.
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 the Ward Branch overflow in 2000 that brought the water line over Weaver Road before stopping at his garage door.
Rasmussen said the development plans would increase water flow in the area by just 2.4 percent, based on engineers’ estimates.
“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, 702 W. Farm Road 178, 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 his 3 acres.
Mayor Ken McClure moved to extend the zoning hearing to the Aug. 13 council meeting. It passed unanimously.
According to the approved consent agenda bill, city officials find the 90-acre area is appropriate for high-intensity retail, office or housing, greenways and low-density housing.
RW Developments, owned by Phil Williams and Trip Rhodes, plans to start development in first-quarter 2019 and complete the commercial aspects in 2021.
A rendering produced by project architect Sapp Design Associates Architects PC shows The Ridge development wrapping around The Library Center and extending south past Weaver Road. The developers filed a preliminary plat with the city Department of Planning and Development on July 6, and the Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved it July 12. A key aspect is that the developers have agreed not to build street connections to Wellington Drive and Buckingham Lane in the Wellington Hills subdivision.
Now that it’s approved, the preliminary plat is active for two years.
Among the code requirements in the preliminary plat: The maximum building height is 35 feet, and 20 percent of the development must contain open spaces. There also is a traffic study pending.
Williams told Springfield Business Journal last month RW Developments intends to develop roughly 30 percent or more and market the rest of the lots for sale to other developers.
Battlefield and Lone Pine
A rezoning bill for the southwest corner of Battlefield Road and Lone Pine Avenue was tabled at the request of the applicant before the scheduled public hearing began.
Briarcliff Investments LLC and John Gentry had filed a request to rezone 8 acres at 2700 E. Battlefield Road to a general retail district from single-family residential. The land is part of a 16-acre parcel owned by Briarcliff Investments LLC, et al., according to Greene County assessor records, and Gentry owns the home on an acre along the property’s western edge.
A county map shows Briarcliff Investments’ full property wraps around a 5-acre residential parcel owned by Chester P. Carson Jr.
Carson also is listed as the organizer and registered agent on Briarcliff Investments’ articles of organization filed with the Missouri secretary of state’s office.
The P&Z Commission unanimously recommends the rezoning after a July 12 public hearing. During that meeting, applicant representative Geoffrey Butler of Butler, Rosenbury & Partners Inc. said, “This is family property and they would like to sell this parcel for rezoning and re-market it,” according to the meeting minutes attached to the rezoning bill.
City staff also recommends approval and noted the properties on the other three corners at the intersection have been rezoned to general retail over the years: Half-a-Hill Shopping Center, Battlefield Towers strip center and CVS.
Council voted unanimously to move the zoning hearing to the Aug. 13 meeting.
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