Springfield City Council last night unanimously denied an appeal for a housing development in the Phelps Grove neighborhood.
Property owner Mark Hunter’s planned development was rejected due to the current administrative delay in the Phelps Grove Urban Conservation District, which went into effect Nov. 5, 2018, through council action. The moratorium was put into effect so the Phelps Grove Neighborhood Plan and Urban Conservation District ordinance can be updated to deal with development issues, according to Nov. 5 council documents.
Hunter already razed a home at 1325 S. Maryland Ave. to make way for his development. His plans for the now-vacant land are to split the tract into four lots for four 1,700-square-foot single-family houses with detached two-car garages, according to city documents.
“Hopefully, we come to some sort of compromise that would mitigate the unfortunate situation with Mr. Hunter, but still maintain the integrity of the neighborhood,” said Councilman Mike Schilling, who made the motion to deny the appeal.
Hunter received a demolition permit to tear down the existing structure on Oct. 23, but when he went to apply for a building permit on Nov. 15, the delay was already in place.
“Nobody told me anything. I’ve got another house in the neighborhood. I was never notified of any of this,” Hunter told council last night.
The four building permits were denied by Harlan Hill, director of Building Development Services, on Nov. 20. Hunter appealed to Planning & Development Director Mary Lilly Smith on Nov. 27 and was denied on Dec. 10. He then appealed on Dec. 14 to City Manager Jason Gage, who denied the request on Dec. 20. Finally, he brought the appeal to council.
Hunter told council members he received assurance from Hill that he would be able to progress with his housing project in conversations that took place before the administrative delay was approved.
“If the demolition permit was done prior to the moratorium, the conversations with Mr. Hill were done prior to the moratorium, so at the time Mr. Hill conveyed that information, he was doing exactly as he should have done as far as the information he provided,” Councilman Craig Hosmer said, before voting against the appeal.
Smith cited two goals of the neighborhood plan – maintaining the single-family character of the neighborhood and preserving existing housing stock – as additional reasons Hunter’s appeal was denied.
Four neighborhood members spoke in opposition of the project, including Eric Pauly, president of the Phelps Grove Neighborhood Association.
“The four skinny houses that have been proposed are out of character and an eyesore to the neighborhood,” he said to council. “Additionally, the clear cutting of old growth trees from the property and the neighborhood is a blight that will take more than 100 years to recover from.”
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