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City Beat: Galloway Village rezoning bill passes after years of debate

Approval makes way for Treadway mixed-use development

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A long-debated project in Galloway Village took a major step forward Sept. 21 when Springfield City Council approved the developer’s rezoning request.

Council voted 7-1 to rezone roughly 4 acres at 3535 S. Lone Pine Ave. for development of the mixed-use project called Treadway. Councilperson Craig Hosmer cast the lone dissenting vote, and councilperson Mike Schilling was absent.

The decision makes way for developer Elevation Development Co. to bring retail, office, restaurant space and two multifamily buildings to the southeast Springfield neighborhood. Many Galloway Village residents have opposed the project since its 2018 introduction.

The continuation of a public hearing Sept. 21 had 13 speakers, with a mix of residents and project officials. Five spoke out against the amendment and development.

In an approved amendment presented earlier in September, Elevation Development decreased the height limit to 56 feet from 60 feet for buildings that are more than 60 feet from the street. A planned underground parking garage also is being removed, which reduces grading and still exceeds the required parking for the development, according to city staff.

Residents in opposition to the development have noted the size and aesthetics of the project, as well as stormwater issues and increased traffic on and around Lone Pine Avenue. Those in support believe Treadway would bolster economic development in the Galloway Village area.

Councilperson Richard Ollis pointed to the fact that developer Mitch Jenkins’ plan was approved 7-1 in July by the Planning & Zoning Commission and city staff recommended council approval. Ollis said the city also is investing over $11 million in public infrastructure improvements in Galloway over the next few years, including widening Galloway Road, rehabilitating sewers, and making intersection improvements at Lone Pine and Galloway, as well as Lone Pine and Battlefield Road.

Project supporters have said Jenkins has made revisions and concessions to the project multiple times to address opponents’ concerns.

“The only other reason I can think of to not approve this project is frankly for a subjective reason, that I don’t like this project,” Ollis said. “I don’t think that’s council’s role. I believe council’s role is determining if the proper process is followed.”

Mayor Ken McClure said the process has been followed.

“If we deny this project, the message being sent to those who would develop in our community is that opportunity and process do not matter,” McClure said. “I do not think we wish to go there as a community.”

Amy Haymes, who owns property directly south of the project, said Jenkins is “trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.”

“As members of council, it’s your role to represent people. You are our voice. It’s your job to listen to all of us and make tough decisions,” said Haymes.

Prior to casting his vote against the rezoning request, Councilperson Hosmer said he’s heard a lot of opposition to the project over the past couple of years, noting the vast majority of the neighborhood is against it.

“I don’t think it’s a good location and I don’t think it’s a good development in front of Sequiota Park,” he said.

Council previously extended the public hearing from its Sept. 8 meeting on an amendment to the project’s rezoning bill due to the number of residents wishing to speak on the issue. The Sept. 21 meeting served as a final opportunity for people to have a say before the rezoning vote.

Jenkins’ plans include keeping the four existing, vacant structures on the site. Among them is the former Sequiota Bike Shop, which closed in 2018 but will reopen as part of the new development, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting.

H Design Group LLC is architect for the project, with civil engineering firm Olsson Inc. also on board.

Jenkins previously said this summer he intends to revitalize the existing buildings without making too many structural changes. The project costs and a timeline have not been determined. He did not return messages seeking additional comment before press time.

Treadway is named after the family who owned the Sequiota Store/Treadway’s General Store & Gas Station, built on the property in 1929.

Police body-worn cameras
Police Chief Paul Williams is requesting to enter into a contract with Motorola Solutions Inc. (NYSE: MSI) for body-worn cameras and hardware to implement the program for the Springfield Police Department.

The total first-year cost to fully implement the program and purchase 240 body-worn cameras for all patrol officers is roughly $612,000, Williams said. If approved, program funds would come from the quarter-cent capital improvements sales tax. The current balance in the sales tax fund account covers the first year of funding and leaves a balance of around $193,000, he said.

Upon signing the contract, Williams said the program would be operational within 90-120 days. Ongoing annual costs are estimated at $125,000.

Council is scheduled to vote on the issue Oct. 5.

Airport improvement
Council heard a proposal that would issue $12 million in bonds to pay for a new aircraft maintenance hangar at Springfield-Branson National Airport for American Airlines planes. Springfield Aviation Director Brian Weiler said at the meeting the airline is the largest of the airport’s four carriers, with 41% of the local market share.

Weiler said a current on-site hangar is large enough to house three of the airline’s smaller 40- to 50-seat regional jets. However, it can’t fit the larger 76-seat jets, such as the Embraer 175, he said. The airport and city plan to finance, build and own a larger maintenance hangar that can hold more planes. It will be leased to American on a long-term agreement with rent to go toward supporting bond payments issued for the project, he said. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

“The project will allow us to retain about 75 existing quality aircraft maintenance jobs in our community that we have today,” he said.

Chuck Allen, managing director of governmental affairs with American Airlines, said no new jobs are initially planned for the hangar, noting American, and the airline industry as a whole, is facing severe challenges amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As airlines plan for a future after COVID, there will be greater reliance on these next generation regional jets our facility is designed to maintain,” Weiler said.

Council will vote on the bill, which requires a budget amendment, at a special meeting Sept. 29.

Other action items
City Manager Jason Gage’s budget request to add a new staff position for director of diversity and inclusion was unanimously approved. The position is responsible for development and implementation of the city’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts and initiatives. Full-year salary and benefits of $120,000 with $30,000 for full-year non-personnel-related office and operating expenses are projected, according to city documents. However, the first-year cost is projected at roughly $75,000 as the position is planned to be filled mid-fiscal year.

“This is an important step,” said Councilperson Matthew Simpson. “This is not the only step we need to take. We need to continue working on steps to make Springfield as welcoming and as inclusive and as inviting a community as possible.”

Council unanimously passed City Utilities’ annual budget request. The budget estimates $599 million in receipts in fiscal 2021, with around half generated from electric bills. Budget expenditures are estimated at $591 million for fiscal 2021, which begins Oct. 1.

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