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Council approves rezoning west of Lake Springfield

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At its April 26 meeting, City Council voted 7-1 to rezone 58 acres on the west side of South Kissick Road and west of Lake Springfield from high-density multi-family use to a lower-density residential single-family zoning, about one-fourth the development density the land was originally zoned for, according to attorney Craig Lowther, who represents the developer.

Before the rezoning, the acreage was zoned for 138 units on about half the property, while the vote approved 126 units for the entire area.

Several residents of the Lake Springfield area spoke against developing the acreage and asked council at the April 12 meeting to find a way to turn the 58 acres into a park or nature conservatory.

Councilman Tom Carlson and Councilwoman Teri Hacker urged residents to get involved early if they felt certain areas of land in the community were pristine or a haven for wildlife.

"There are several not-for-profit groups out there such as the Conservation Federation that can fund land preservation. This takes a long time, sometimes up to a year, to get these grants. Citizens can't wait until a developer is ready to begin developing land to begin their efforts to preserve it," Hacker said.

In a related item, council held a first reading to approve the preliminary plat of Lake Ridge Estates, the rezoned 58 acres west of Lake Springfield, as an addition to the city.

Council decided unanimously that Lafayette Park, two blocks north of Commercial Street, will receive $20,500 from the $1.9 million in Community Development Block Grant funds awarded to Springfield by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The bill was passed after it was amended to reallocate the $20,500 to improvements for Lafayette Park from the Family Violence Center's $40,000 request for a 24-hour day care.

"Woodland Heights is trying to turn their neighborhood around like the midtown neighborhoods did with Washington Park a few years ago, and I thought this (funding) would give them a leg up," Councilman Bob Vanaman said.

"The Family Violence Center has already received $144,000 in city money this year, and I thought it was time to spread some of it around a little more. All the programs that requested money from this grant are excellent programs, but this grant is not meant to permanently fund the same programs year after year."

The Family Violence Center will now have to seek private donations in order to complete funding for the day care, according to Executive Director Stella Harrison.

Council also unanimously approved a resolution adopting a water quality protection policy for Fulbright Spring, Pierson Creek and sinkhole watersheds.

Council approved the rezoning of about half an acre of land on South Glenstone east of Reed Avenue from general retail to planned development. The vote was 6-1-1, with Carlson abstaining. Hacker voted against, citing the area's continuing sewer problems. Councilman Russell Rhodes was absent.

A bill to rezone an area at the northwest corner of West Battlefield and Main Avenue from a single family residential area to an office district passed unanimously.

In other business, council held a first reading to authorize acceptance of the donation of 75 M-16 rifles from the U.S. Department of Defense Surplus Property Program for use by the Springfield Police Department. If approved, the M-16s could be on city streets within 45 days, according to Police Chief Lynn Rowe.

Mayor Lee Gannaway and other members of council voiced concerns about the number of weapons, how they will be distributed and security issues.

Rowe said the department requested the 75 weapons to be dispersed among trained squads in the department in order to have four M-16s per squad at any given time and to have extra weapons to be used for spare parts within the department.

Rowe said the M-16s will be converted from fully automatic to semiautomatic rifles and will be stored in a 24-hour surveillance area.

Council also held first readings to amend the city budget $156,000 to relocate Fire Station No. 1 to the Phelps Grove neighborhood, to clarify the responsibility of landlords to have a local registered agent in Urban Conservation Districts and to add provisions to the City Code relating to the outside storage of combustible waste in disposal areas.

A first reading was also held to authorize application for and acceptance of a clandestine drug lab collection station through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. The measure would provide Springfield and regional police a place to temporarily store hazardous drug lab materials for ultimate processing and proper disposal.

Council approved a contract with Hartman and Company for the reopening of College Street to lead College to Park Central Square. Work will begin in June.

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