Springfield, MO

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Council ushers in $520M CU budget

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On Sept. 20, Springfield City Council held a public hearing for a proposed multifamily housing unit for Missouri State University students and put to rest a long-running debate about on-site storage containers.

The next day during a council lunch, members approved City Utilities’ $520.7 million operating budget 6-1 and unanimously tabled a vote related to an electric rate increase.
CU officials had requested more time to answer council’s questions about the rate increase.

On Sept. 13, CU answered questions raised at the public hearing on the requested rate increase of 7 percent for residential customers and between 2.5 percent and 7 percent for commercial customers, which would be carried out during the course of three years beginning October 2011. Now, CU General Manager John Twitty said there are follow-up questions to address.

“They were just verbally presented, so we’ll be in the process of getting those reduced to writing and then we’ll start working on responses,” he said.
Councilman Robert Stephens introduced the motion to table the bill.

A separate list of questions came from Carl Herd, member of the city’s Police and Fire Pension Fund citizens’ task force and a former teacher. Before the Sept. 20 meeting, Herd passed out a list of questions to media and city council members. Among the questions were
“How much is spent on legal counsel?” and “How do wages paid to City Utilities’ employees compare to identical jobs in the private sector?” Twitty said he was unaware of Herd’s questions.

Twitty estimated it would take a week to answer council’s outstanding questions. As soon as the process is complete, CU or a council member will notify the city clerk’s office that it is ready for the bill to be placed back on a council agenda.

Council members passed CU’s $520.7 million operating budget, with councilman Dan Chiles casting the only negative vote.

Values-based housing
An MSU ministry is hoping to build a $4.5 million, four-story student housing facility adjacent to campus.

United Ministries in Higher Education has requested a conditional-use permit for a floor-area ratio increase, which would allow for the construction of a four-story, 52,990-square-foot housing development for MSU students at 608 S. Florence Ave., said project architect and H Design Group LLC principal Brent Stevens.

“Basically, a floor-area ratio increase allows a slightly higher increase in square footage for the building than is allowed by zoning ordinance,” Stevens said.

The building’s design calls for first-floor office space and a gathering space to be occupied by United Ministries. “Our goal is to offer a housing product and values-added living environment for Missouri State students that will enhance their whole higher education experience,” Cavner said.

Miller-O’Reilly Co. Inc. is developer of the proposed project, said Steve Monsanto, project manager for general contractor Build LLC. Should council approve the conditional-use permit on Oct. 4, construction is expected to be complete in mid-2011.

Green light for storage containers
Following a public hearing, council unanimously approved two bills that end a long debate about on-site storage containers. One bill created three new definitions in the fire code, clarifying that storage containers and trailers must comply with the code. Another outlined residential and nonresidential uses.

For nonresidential use, there is no time limit or limit to the number of storage containers allowable on a property, but they must comply with building ordinances within the district. Containers are not allowed in an area that negatively impacts a neighboring property’s access or visibility from a major street, according to the bill.

In residential districts, storage containers are only permitted for two 60-day time periods within a year. As many as three containers can be on a property for 72 hours.[[In-content Ad]]


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