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The Jefferson Avenue Footbridge rehabilitation project is slated for an open-bid process this spring.
SBJ photo by Jessica Rosa
The Jefferson Avenue Footbridge rehabilitation project is slated for an open-bid process this spring.

City Beat: Previously denied rezoning returns to City Council

Council hears next step on Jefferson Avenue Footbridge and votes to join new energy district

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A rezoning for 3.6 acres in south-central Springfield brought concern from area residents at the Jan. 13 City Council meeting, and it wasn’t the first time.

A request to change 2521 S. Holland Ave. to a low-density multifamily district from a single-family residential district brought nine speakers to the dais.

Teresa Davidson of Heithaus Engineering & Associates Inc., representing applicant Jefferey Ballard, said the plan calls for a multifamily development with a maximum density of 11 dwelling units per acre.

The western property currently is zoned for duplex housing. The property still needs to be platted, said Springfield Planning and Development Director Mary Lilly Smith.

Another option for Ballard is developing single family units on-site.

“We estimate that with the street and the minimum lot size – which is 6,000 square feet – they could put 17 to 18 single-family dwelling units on-site,” she said.

The property went through the rezoning process last year. On Jan. 28, 2019, a rezoning request to a low-density multifamily district from a single-family residential district failed due to a tie vote. Flooding concerns were raised at the time. Part of the property is located in a federal flood zone.

“We know that there is flooding concerns to the north upstream of this development because everything is draining south towards the floodway,” Julie Hawkins, a city stormwater project manager, told council at the recent meeting. “That will make sure there’s no additional flooding concerns to those properties to the north.”

Currently on-site is a single-family house, according to city documents.

Smith said Ballard must provide documentation that flood elevations would not increase above Federal Emergency Management Agency standards. Flooding has been identified to the north of the property, Hawkins said, and there are no downstream concerns.

Public speakers were opposed to the development, raising concerns about negative property values, traffic, area flooding and the safety of the children attending nearby Holland Elementary School.

“Holland Elementary is the only school for deaf children in our district,” said nearby resident Sherry Campbell. “The extra traffic from uncaring and unknowing tenants is an additional and unnecessary hazard for these children.”

Traffic counts on the narrow width of Holland Avenue was another concern from residents.

Smith said the development would increase traffic on nearby Downing Street, raising the street’s average daily traffic count to 200 daily trips.

“That compares very favorably, actually, on an average annual daily trip count to other collector streets that are in front of elementary schools,” she said.

The average daily traffic count on Holland Street is 506 cars, Smith said.

Council is scheduled to vote on the second-attempted rezoning Jan. 27.

Footbridge rehab
The 118-year-old Jefferson Avenue Footbridge is set to enter into a memorandum of agreement with the Federal Highway Administration.

Andrew Flippin, a professional engineer with the city, presented an ordinance for the city to enter into a memorandum of agreement with the Federal Highway Administration and the State Historic Preservation Office for the Jefferson Avenue Footbridge rehabilitation project.

Plans for the project call for rehabilitation of the existing main truss bridge and towers, adding elevators on each side and ramps to meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards, according to city documents.

“We plan to put the project out for bid and come to council for approval of bids in spring of this year,” he said. “We hope to begin construction later this year and complete the project in 2021.”

The Jefferson Avenue Footbridge closed in March 2016 due to structural concerns, Flippin said.

In July 2018, the city and the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission entered into an agreement for $2 million in Surface Transportation Program funds with a $500,000 city match for reconstruction, Flippin said, for a $2.5 million budget.

Last April, the city went through the State Historic Preservation Office’s Section 106 process to create the historic preservation plan and responsibilities, Flippin said. At the time, modifications were made to the design to reflect public input.

Preliminary plans show an elevator lift switched to the east side of the bridge along with removal of the walking platform. Stairs would come straight out from the bridge, Flippin said, a change from the current switchback design.

The alternate bid estimate would be about $200,000 more, Flippin said.

The memorandum of agreement contains an outline of the project’s history and stipulations, including a five-year timeline to complete the rehabilitation.

Council is scheduled to vote on the ordinance Jan. 27.

Other notes
• Council heard a first reading bill to rezone 17 acres at 3525 E. Battlefield Road to general retail from a planned development district. Applicant and property owner McLean Enterprises Inc. plans to sell the vacant land west of Jack Henry & Associates Inc.’s corporate office at the northeast corner of Battlefield Road and U.S. Highway 65. McLean Enterprises officer Lee McLean III said the property is under contract with an unnamed buyer, and the bill seeks approval for office use, with light retail sales. If approved, a conventional overlay district would be established and prohibit 24-hour automobile service stations with convenience stores on the property.

Council is scheduled to vote on the rezoning Jan. 27.

• Council voted to join the commercial component of the Show Me Property Assessed Clean Energy District after the bill was originally introduced over two months ago. Joining Show Me PACE follows the city’s Sept. 23 withdrawal from the Missouri Clean Energy District.

The Show Me PACE District is a financing mechanism for property owners to pay for energy efficiency and renewable energy measures through private capital, according to the Show Me PACE website. The nonprofit charges 1% for projects over $500,000 and 1.25% on projects below that threshold, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting.

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