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Springfield, MO

Letter to the Editor: Rountree redevelopment issues misunderstood

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Dear editor,

There are several inaccuracies in the story on Rountree redevelopment in the Aug. 28 edition of the Springfield Business Journal.

Firstly, the development proposed by Roza homes, at 1325 and 1329 E. Cherry St., will provide a total of 12 dwelling units, not 24 as reported in the story, “Council ‘reluctantly’ approves Rountree redevelopment.”

Secondly, the administrative delay which was recently passed by City Council should not be referred to as a “development moratorium,” because it was never intended to prevent development. The purpose of the delay was to preserve the existing zoning and the existing lot configurations while the Rountree Urban Conservation District is being reviewed and updated.

Review of the Rountree UCD was initiated by City Council to insure that the UCD, the underlying zoning ordinance and the city of Springfield Comprehensive Growth Plan are well coordinated and working together to promote optimal redevelopment of Cherry Street and similar neighborhood areas.

Rountree residents, for the most part, recognize that higher-density living and mixed-use zoning can help create a walkable neighborhood. However, these concepts should be developed in moderation, to retain the historic character and appeal of the neighborhood, which is the driver of economic activity in this area. Overdevelopment may seem profitable in the short term, but killing the goose that laid the golden egg is rarely a good idea.

Thirdly, despite protestations to the contrary, no developer has “the right” to rezone a piece of property. Any experienced developer knows that rezoning is a privilege, not a right, granted by the city and the neighboring property owners.

Rezoning almost always requires significant time and careful consideration. While this process is underway, within the Rountree UCD, all of the property owners retain all of the rights they had when they bought their property. The fact that the Roza Homes project is proceeding demonstrates a healthy respect for existing property rights.

Finally, the claim by the architect for Roza Homes – that the subject property would remain undeveloped without the tax abatement granted by City Council – seems hard to believe when the undeveloped property sold for over $200,000 in the first week it was on the market, after receiving multiple offers. The property almost certainly would have redeveloped in a different manner, without tax abatement.

Remarks by City Council members that it may be time to reconsider the value of “spot blighting” seem appropriate, especially in this instance.

—Jeffrey Bentley, Bentley Building Co. LLC

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