After nearly two hours of deliberation Aug. 15, Springfield’s Planning and Zoning Commission initially decided against development recommendations for Galloway Village. As it turns out, they’re going to cast ballots again.
The commission’s votes were deadlocked at 4-4, but a misunderstanding of protocol in a tie vote led to an incorrect denial of city staff’s recommendations. With the tie vote, the commission retroactively tabled the recommendations under city code Section 36-367, prompting a second vote scheduled Sept. 12.
City Planning and Development staff members brought the recommendations to the commission after months of public meetings and resident input. Council is scheduled to formally hear the Galloway Village recommendations Sept. 23, now that a 270-day development moratorium in Galloway has ended.
Council members consider Planning and Zoning recommendations before voting, and they typically follow suit.
Commissioners Cameron Rose, Joel Thomas, Britton Jobe and Vice Chairman King Coltrin voted in opposition of the staff recommendations, while Melissa Cox, Dee Ogilvy, Natalie Broekhoven and Chairman Randy Doennig voted in favor. Commissioner David Shuler was not present at the meeting.
Springfield Senior Planner Olivia Hough presented the recommendations to the commission along with Planning Manager Bob Hosmer.
“Staff recommendations fall into four categories: public safety, natural environment, image enhancement, and we had some general recommendations,” Hough said.
The vision statement by area residents identified a loss of village character as the most important concern, followed by traffic issues, loss of tree canopy, flooding and preservation of historic buildings, Hough said.
New developments in the Galloway Village area would be required to conform to the staff recommendations, if approved by council.
“Conventional overlay districts would be required in conjunction with any new rezoning cases in this area,” Hough said.
Before the Planning and Zoning vote, Coltrin made a motion to remove from the conversation a contested site at 2700 E. Battlefield Road, citing the fact the property was rezoned before the Galloway moratorium was put in place. That motion passed 8-0.
The property at the southwest corner of Lone Pine Avenue and Battlefield Road was at the center of council debates last year, as residents protested its use for commercial purposes. It’s currently a vacant lot, now zoned as general retail.
Jim Carson, who owns the Battlefield and Lone Pine property with his family, said he was raised on the acreage dating back to 1956.
“I’m probably closer emotionally to that piece of property than any group of people,” he told commissioners at the meeting.
Carson said he lost a buyer for the property since the moratorium was put in place last November.
“That sale is the inheritance of my younger siblings and myself,” he said.
After his mother died in 2005, Carson said the family chose not to develop the land and preserve it as green space as long as possible.
“Those siblings are retiring. They need their inheritance, and this process has killed one deal and threatens to kill another,” he said.
Galloway Village Neighborhood Association Vice President Betsy Johnson addressed the commission before the vote, echoing Hough’s comments about restricting building heights, density, history and preserving the natural environment.
“The adoption of these recommendations would be a welcome first step in maintaining the safety of our residents, protecting our environment and allowing our village to exist,” she said.
Galloway resident Dwayne Johnson said he was concerned the recommendations didn’t have teeth.
“Since these are recommendations, and not going to be a policy, this is something we spent nine months telling the city what we want, but it looks like it doesn’t mean anything,” he said.
Geoffrey Butler of BRP Architects, who represented Carson and Briarcliff Investments LLC during the Battlefield and Lone Pine rezoning, also addressed the commission before the vote.
“There’s a lot of ambiguity in the policy,” he said. “There’s a lot of good statements, but it’s just not something I can get my arms around and [I’d] really feel sorry for anyone who wants to develop. This will actually kill any development of the few parcels of undeveloped land down there.”
The commissioners who voted in opposition said the recommendations were a good guideline but too broad to be used for development policy.
“We’re putting a lot of ambiguity into the development process,” Rose said. “I would like to see something that’s a little more specific, a little bit more flexible as far as requiring a conditional overlay district.”
Butler said the recommendations extend the time frame for projects in Galloway Village to get off the ground.
“Now you’re looking at buying a piece of property and you’ve negotiated a price with the seller, and now you’ve got six months before you know if you’ve got a project,” he said. “You’re going to invest $10,000, $15,000 with no assurance it will pass.”
Sam Coryell, who developed the $12 million, 138-unit Township 28 complex at 3900 S. Lone Pine Ave. in 2016, likes the idea of limiting density and building height requirements in Galloway. But he’s also mindful of vague language in the recommendations.
“If the language isn’t spelled out clearly, that can certainly stymie progress,” Coryell said in an interview after the vote.
Coryell said he’s in favor of preserving the spirit of Galloway Village, and understands the residents’ call for development to fit the character of the area. He cited the more recent Galloway Creek mixed-use development at 3938 S. Lone Pine Ave. as being uncharacteristic.
“In my opinion, that’s what the neighbors are saying isn’t Galloway, and I agree with them,” he said.
He said the separately established community improvement district, approved by City Council on Aug. 12, could work in tandem with the development recommendations from city staff.
“I think they will because the CID is a funding mechanism. It doesn’t necessarily dictate what improvements are made,” he said.
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