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Council approves resident-opposed rezoning

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Last edited 2:19 p.m., Nov. 7, 2018

After more than three months of meetings, amendments and deliberations, Springfield City Council last night voted 5-3 to rezone 8 acres at 2700 E. Battlefield Road.

The vote ends a conversation that began on Aug. 13 for the bill, which was amended twice to limit the scope of the development. It previously faced heavy criticism from nearby Galloway Village neighborhood residents, who cited potential issues with traffic and the preservation of the greenspace and natural topography of the area. Similar issues were voiced last night by nearby residents ahead of council’s vote.

“The heart of the issue is that general retail is not the best zoning option for this parcel,” resident Zeb Ayres said. “As a textbook example of infill development, this parcel has many aspects which will make it a challenge to develop for commercial uses while also protecting the interests of the neighborhood.”

The votes in favor of the rezoning were Mayor Ken McClure, councilmen Matthew Simpson and Richard Ollis, Councilwoman Jan Fisk and new Councilman Andrew Lear, who was sworn in last night. Councilmen Craig Hosmer and Mike Schilling and Councilwoman Phyllis Ferguson voted against the rezoning. Councilman Tom Prater was absent.

“We’re making a change that’s going to affect a thousand property owners in the city of Springfield,” Hosmer said. “This is not a well-thought-out plan. I think it’s premature. I think it’s not far-sighted.”

Hosmer said the Galloway neighborhood is unique in Springfield and was critical of the 2014 measure to blight property in the area to encourage development.

With the passage of the rezoning, the owner of the property, Briarcliff Investments LLC, can sell it to an interested buyer, who has not been named. Medical office space is planned for the acreage.

“We’re making a change for someone that might buy a piece of property, that might develop property, that might do something with this property,” Hosmer said. “We don’t really know what they’re going to do, we don’t know what they’re going to build, we don’t know how they’re going to develop it.”

No other council members spoke on the measure last night.

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