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Hotel of Terror’s petition has been deemed valid.
SBJ file
Hotel of Terror’s petition has been deemed valid.

Hotel of Terror petition gets the green light 

Posted online

An amended petition submitted by Hotel of Terror owner Sterling Mathis has been deemed sufficient by Springfield City Clerk Anita Cotter. 

The amended referendum petition seeks to overturn the city’s proposed use of eminent domain to obtain property needed to replace a failing Main Street bridge. Cotter will notify Springfield City Council at the April 17 meeting that the amended petition is sufficient, according to a news release from the city. 

Mathis had turned in a petition with over 2,100 signatures March 24, but he fell short of the 1,568 verified signatures needed. He had 10 days to submit an amended petition that could include additional signatures, as spelled out by the city charter, and he turned in the amended petition April 10. 

The statement from the city noted that under the city charter, if a referendum petition is certified as sufficient, the ordinance specified in the petition is suspended. Council must then vote on whether to repeal the ordinance within 30 days of the certification. If council fails to repeal the ordinance, it must call a special election, and the ordinance will remain suspended unless it’s approved by voters. If voters do not approve the ordinance, it is deemed repealed. 

A statement from the city said the condemnation process is not entered into lightly. 

“It is only being considered after years of trying to negotiate agreement on a fair market value offer for property acquisition needed to be able to move forward to replace the failing Main Street bridge,” the release states. “Throughout the negotiation process, the city has sought multiple third-party appraisals on the property to help determine ‘just compensation’ for the building since the property owner continues to decline offers.” 

The city also hired a specialist to provide relocation assistance, and the city has offered to provide reimbursement costs for relocating the haunted attraction’s property to reestablish the business in another building, the statement continues.

Mathis has said his latest offer from the city is $550,000. City representatives said they do not comment on negotiations in progress.

On March 13, Mathis told Springfield Business Journal the city may want to renegotiate if he were to get enough signatures, but if not, he would be happy to let citywide voters decide. 

“These people see one way,” he said. “They don’t want to work with anybody; they just want to do what they want to do – who cares what you think.” 

He also said he would be happy staying put. 

“They’re going to have to go another way – do something different with their little plan,” he said. 

At a council meeting Feb. 21 when the body voted to seize the haunted attraction through eminent domain, Councilmember Andrew Lear said Mathis would receive fair market value, but the seizure was necessary to make way for the Renew Jordan Creek project planned in the downtown area. 

“This is not a taking,” he said. “This action tonight is not a forcing of any such event; it’s simply putting it in place so that this entire project stays on track.” 


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