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Springfield City Council’s longest-serving member, Craig Hosmer, far right, held a town hall meeting at National Avenue Christian Church last night to discuss development issues and accept questions. 
Karen Craigo | SBJ
Springfield City Council’s longest-serving member, Craig Hosmer, far right, held a town hall meeting at National Avenue Christian Church last night to discuss development issues and accept questions. 

Hosmer apologizes for council's inaction on development delay at town hall meeting

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Springfield City Council member Craig Hosmer, typically one voice in a nine-member ensemble, was a solo act last night in a town hall meeting he called with city residents, With a specific focus on neighborhoods. 

The purpose of the meeting, held at National Avenue Christian Church near the intersection of National Avenue and Sunshine Street, was to discuss neighborhood issues about development and answer questions about city processes, according to an invitation originally posted by Hosmer and shared in various social media groups online. 

In his opening remarks, Hosmer said he served as a member of the Missouri House of Representatives for 12 years and has been on council for a decade, and during that time he has learned the importance of strong neighborhoods. 

“Some people on City Council see neighborhoods getting up and arguing against something, and they think those are the people that don’t want something in their backyard,” he said. “I think that’s exactly the opposite. If we have people that don’t care about their neighborhoods and don’t come to the City Council and are not passionate about why they want to protect their neighborhoods, we’re in trouble as a city.” 

The meeting was an apparent response to a Jan. 23 council decision that tabled consideration of Hosmer’s resolution to propose a 210-day administrative delay for development on the Sunshine and National corner in the University Heights neighborhood. The delay would have allowed time for council to hear input from residents and developers before moving forward. 

At that council meeting, more than three dozen city residents showed up to weigh in on the resolution and the proposed development, a mixed-use residential and commercial structure called The Heights that could be as large as 200,000 square feet and six stories, planned by development group BK&M LLC. 

After Hosmer’s resolution for a delay was introduced and explained by city staff, Councilmember Abe McGull instantly spoke up to refer that resolution to council’s Plans and Policies Committee. McGull cited concerns about liability from council giving the appearance of trying to halt a specific development. 

The motion was seconded by Matthew Simpson, and council voted 6-3 to send the resolution to committee. 

“They put it in a committee that hasn’t had a meeting in months,” Hosmer told the town hall audience. “And so, the purpose of that referral to committee was … kill the bill.” 

The committee, one of four for council, is chaired by Richard Ollis and its members are Hosmer, McGull and Andrew Lear. The committee’s charge, according to the council website, is to review and make recommendations on city code revisions, council goals and procedures and master planning of all areas. 

Hosmer said similar proposals for an administrative delay had been approved during his time on council, including delays in Galloway Village, Phelps Grove and Rountree. He added that city staff originally supported his resolution, but staff then changed their position. 

“Vote it up or down,” he said. “But to deny an opportunity for people to be heard in their own city is an embarrassment. 

“I would publicly like to apologize to the neighbors that came to City Council to speak, because that was not City Council’s best day. That was wrong.” 

Roughly 100 people turned out for last night’s listening session, most from the neighborhoods of University Heights, Phelps Grove, Seminole/Holland, Phelps Grove, Meador Park, Delaware and Rountree. Some neighborhood associations promoted the meeting through their Facebook pages and other communication channels. 

Audience members asked questions of Hosmer, and many of them had a common theme: What is the best way to get City Council to listen to residents? Hosmer suggested contacting council members individually by email to express concerns and also actually inviting them to visit neighborhoods. 

“You have to sort of change your mindset, too,” he said. 

He also reminded the audience to vote in the election on April 4. The mayor’s seat and three council positions have contested elections, while two other members of the nine-person body are running unopposed. Hosmer is not up for reelection. 

Hosmer did not endorse any candidate, and he said he respected all of his fellow council members with different viewpoints, but he noted that debate is healthy. 

“I hope that people understand that what happens in City Council is affected by what you do on April 4,” he said. 

He reminded the audience that council works for them. 

“When I’m in office, I’m an employee. I’m an employee of the 150,000 people who live in the city of Springfield,” he said. “I’m not better than anybody. I’m not worse than anybody. But I’m an employee. I work for the people that I represent.” 


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