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City Beat: Battlefield Road rezoning on pause

City Council tables two rezoning plans and increases the real and personal property tax rate

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Springfield City Council delayed a rezoning proposal for the southwest corner of Battlefield Road and Lone Pine Avenue until late next month.

The applicants, Briarcliff Investments LLC and resident John Gentry, want to rezone the property to general retail from a single-family residential district to make way for a medical office building, council members learned at the Aug. 27 council meeting.

During the rezoning bill’s first reading Aug. 13, council members heard from eight residents who voiced concerns about sign visibility, Sequiota Park access and traffic increases.

An unnamed developer is interested in buying the 8 acres at 2700 E. Battlefield Road, said Geoffrey Butler of Butler, Rosenbury & Partners Inc., who represented the applicants before council.

“The buyer is confidential; the contract is contingent on the rezoning ,” Butler said via email, noting the size of the building is not firm yet. “The buyer indicated they want all of the site because they wanted lots of green space for the development. I expect that it will not be a very large building for an 8-acre site.”

Butler said the residence owned by Chester “Kit” Carson at 2720 E. Battlefield Road to the south of the potential development property is not part of the sale. Carson is the organizer of Briarcliff Investments, according to Missouri secretary of state filings.

At the Aug. 27 meeting, council members expressed concern about how the rezoning would impact nearby neighborhoods, specifically Galloway Village.

“I think Galloway is a unique district within our city. It’s one that people want to live in,” said Councilman Matthew Simpson, who talked with Butler about the proposal hours before the meeting. “It’s also been an area that’s growing and been developing. As it’s been developed and grown, I don’t know if we always kept up with the infrastructure.”

Simpson said he was concerned about walkability near Sequiota Park and that council should work to improve safety in the area to accommodate “the increased number of residents there that has come along with the growth.”

Councilwoman Kristi Fulnecky drew applause from a section of those in attendance with her comments on traffic issues affecting others nearby.

“I’m all for free enterprise and do whatever you want with your land until it interferes with other people’s property rights,” she said.

Prior to unanimously tabling the rezoning until the Sept. 24 meeting, council members asked city staff to collect more input from Springfield Public Works as well as additional feedback from nearby residents.

Tax levy increase
Council voted 8-1 in favor of increasing the city’s personal property tax levy to 62.18 cents per $100 of assessed value with Fulnecky as the lone dissenter.

The rate last year was 61.77 cents, representing a 1.3 percent increase, said Springfield Finance Director David Holtmann.

“The combined property tax levy for all of our taxing districts will bring in revenue of approximately $20,600,000,” Holtmann told council.

The tax collections are distributed to four funds, ranging from $8.86 million for municipal purposes to $1.3 million to the Springfield Art Museum, according to city documents.

The 2018 valuation of all real and personal property in the city, including state-assessed utilities, exceeded $3.02 billion, an increase of roughly $16 million, city documents show.

Holtmann said tax collections at the new rate will begin in late December and early January.

TV antenna nixed
A bill to rezone 1.5 acres of property owned by KRBK LLC at 1701-1715 S. Enterprise Ave. was permanently tabled at the applicant’s request.

The proposal sought to rezone the land to an industrial commercial district in order to erect a TV antenna. Since filing the application, KRBK was purchased by KOLR and KOZL owner Nexstar Broadcasting Inc.

Nexstar operates locally at 2650 E. Division Street.

Its acquisition of KRBK is part of a larger agreement to also take over operations of Huntsville TV LLC’s WHDF-TV, the CW affiliate serving Huntsville, Alabama. The aggregate purchase price is $19.5 million.

The transactions are expected to close in the fourth quarter, pending approvals by the Federal Communications Commission and other regulatory bodies.

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