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City Beat: Developers, business owners chime in on Galloway rezoning

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Local developers and businesspeople joined the continued debate of a Galloway Village rezoning request at Springfield City Council’s Aug. 10 meeting.

The rezoning of 4 acres at 3535 S. Lone Pine Ave. would make way for a mixed-use development comprising retail, office, restaurant space and two multifamily buildings. The project by Mitch Jenkins of Elevation Development Co. has been met with resistance in the neighborhood, and he’s been working through city processes since 2018.

After hearing from 18 speakers – including developers, residents and project officials – council unanimously moved to continue the public discussion at its Aug. 24 meeting. Council members were informed that more residents wished to speak but missed the deadline to sign up.

Ten speakers supported the rezoning – three were affiliated with the project – citing the economic impact of the development and several changes that have been made to meet city and neighborhood requests. Those opposed pointed to increased traffic and the aesthetics of the project.

Bryan Bevel, who owns The Pitch Pizza and Pub on East Sunshine Street and a food truck on Lone Pine Avenue in Galloway Village, said the development would improve the area. He said the project could pave the way for other small-business owners to consider opportunities in Galloway.

Local real estate agent Rhett Smillie, who said he owns two commercial properties in the area, said new development in the Galloway area has improved drainage and traffic in recent years.

“He’s keeping those original structures to maintain that feel, and he’s trying to attract businesses that are important down there, like the bike shop,” Smillie said of Jenkins. “Every time I see a new development going in there, there are some growing pains, but traffic is improved.”

Jenkins of Elevation Development has said he’ll preserve and utilize the Sequiota Store/Treadway’s General Store & Gas Station building and the former Sequiota Bike Shop.

However, the longtime owner of properties next door to the planned development opposes the project. Jeff Haymes of Trim Salon and Sequiota Properties said he shares an easement with Jenkins and one of the access points to the proposed project is on his property. Haymes’ tenants include 4 by 4 Brewing Co. and 2B Well Springfield.

“Every ounce of traffic that drops off the back of that property comes through my parking lot,” Haymes said. “I’m definitely opposed to this, and it was never taken into consideration – me or my property.

“I’ve been in Galloway for 29 years, cutting hair every day.”

City staff addressed the concern at the meeting, noting there are three access points to public right of way planned for the development, including one on Haymes’ property.

Jenkins and project architect H Design Group LLC have changed the density, height and scale of the project to adhere to the city’s Galloway Redevelopment Plan and requests from neighbors.

Local engineer Neil Brady of Bartlett & West said council should approve the rezoning to support developers who work to meet the city’s requirements. Brady said he’s worked with developers who have chosen to develop outside of the city after facing difficulty meeting Springfield codes.

Developer Matt O’Reilly, who owns the Quarry Town mixed-use development on Lone Pine Avenue, said he’s concerned about the height and density of Jenkins’ project and that it does not follow the Galloway Redevelopment Plan guidelines.

“It was stated at the Planning Commission [meeting] that this developer has worked hard, has compromised and has earned the right to develop this site. To the contrary, no one has the right to override the regulations despite how hard they try,” O’Reilly said.

O’Reilly’s Quarry Town is zoned to allow 12-20 units per acre, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting. Jenkins’ project has been revised to reduce the scale of the buildings along Lone Pine Avenue to two stories and the building height to a maximum of 45 feet. According to past reporting, this lowers the density to 25 units per acre, while the Galloway Redevelopment Plan allows up to 27 units per acre.

Jenkins’ redevelopment plan was approved 7-1 by the Planning & Zoning Commission last month and city staff recommended council approval.

Forward SGF
Council approved two advisory teams for the Forward SGF comprehensive planning process in an attempt to facilitate public input.

The Downtown Advisory Team comprises 21 community members; among those representing the retail, nonprofit, financial, real estate and arts sectors are Michelle Billionis of The Coffee Ethic, Dan Reiter of the Springfield Cardinals, John McQueary of Hotel Vandivort, Jeff Schrag of Mother’s Brewing Co. and Brina Thomas of Five Pound Apparel.

“We’ve tried to get representation from all sectors that have been important to the success of downtown and will hopefully be involved in the future of downtown,” said Planning and Development Director Mary Lilly Smith.

The Commercial Street Advisory Team has 13 members, including restaurateur Joe Gidman, small-business owner Lyle Foster of Big Momma’s Coffee and Espresso Bar, and longtime C-Street resident Mary Collette, owner of Historic Firehouse No. 2.

The teams were established to act as community sounding boards and to provide feedback to the Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council during the planning process.

Reiter said he agreed to serve on a committee to play a part in bettering Springfield. The committee hadn’t met by press time.

“They put together this group to make sure we’re giving downtown extra attention in the planning process … to make sure we have a thriving downtown,” he said.

Other actions
Emery Sapp & Sons Inc. was approved to construct the West Meadows Trail and parking lot improvements in downtown Springfield for $405,500. The westward expansion of Jordan Valley Park will be funded through the one-eighth-cent transportation sales tax and a grant from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, according to city documents.

Council also unanimously agreed the city can condemn property for the Hunt Branch Trunk sewer project in southeast Springfield. The property owner of three tracts, Bryant Farms of Greene County LLC, has not agreed on a deal with the city, said Rod Petering, assistant director of environmental services. The city offered $19,000 for the easements, but the property owner is requesting $383,000.

Additionally, Gloria Deo Academy will be opening a new campus for its private school this fall at 3146 S. Golden Ave. following a council rezoning.

Fisk hearing
An Aug. 14 administrative hearing scheduled to discuss allegations related to Councilperson Jan Fisk was canceled.

Cora Scott, the city’s director of public information and civic engagement, said the meeting was postponed and that a rescheduled date had not been identified by press time.

Whistleblower complaints have pointed to potential conflicts of interest by Fisk related to J. Howard Fisk Limousines Inc. and alleged unpaid property taxes, according to past SBJ reporting.

City documents indicate the hearing was postponed to allow Fisk’s attorney, Bryan Fisher of Neale & Newman LLP, to depose Greg Burris, the city manager at the time of the potential conflicts of interest. In a letter written last year to City Attorney Rhonda Lewsader, who is not representing the city in this case, Burris said he investigated the potential conflict of Executive Limousines – a company contracted by the city – utilizing the bus services from Fisk’s company. But he did not find an issue with it at the time.

Fisk last year said she would not seek reelection in 2021. Former council member Justin Burnett announced last month that he’ll run for Fisk’s seat.

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