Last edited 11:29 a.m., May 26, 2021
A Greene County judge ruled in favor of a developer who sued City Hall over a contested Galloway Village mixed-use project.
The decision by Greene County Circuit Court Judge David Jones blocks an election ballot that was slated to go before voters on Aug. 3, according to a news release from the city of Springfield. Elevation Enterprises LLC sued the city and Springfield City Council after the governing body in December voted to send the developer's rezoning request to a public vote.
Jones found the zoning referendum process outlined in Springfield's city charter conflicts with state law. Springfield City Attorney Rhonda Lewsader said the court decision confirms the city's position that a contradiction exists between the charter section outlining the process for referendums and the one for zoning procedures. State law has procedures for zoning property that conflict with the city's referendum procedure.
"This decision makes clear that repealing rezoning through a general election would conflict with state law,” Lewsader said in the release.
The city sought to address the conflict in 1994, but the issue was rejected by voters, Lewsader said, noting a decision has not been made on whether to revisit the issue at the ballot.
Elevation Enterprises argued in court that the petition from the Galloway Village Neighborhood Association was invalid because it didn't explicitly seek a vote. The association submitted more than 2,700 signatures in its quest to stop the development plans, according to the release.
Developer Mitch Jenkins of Elevation is seeking to rezone roughly 4 acres at 3535 S. Lone Pine Ave. in order to bring to the neighborhood up to 12,000 square feet of retail, office and restaurant space and two multifamily buildings with a maximum of 25 housing units per acre.
The development has been debated over a two-year period, with area residents criticizing such aspects of the plan as traffic concerns, stormwater issues and its size and aesthetics. Jenkins’s plan includes a parcel that was once the Sequoita Store/Treadway’s General Store & Gas Station, built in 1929.
Galloway Village Neighborhood Association officials said in a statement that "it is beyond belief that our city would knowingly word rezoning ordinances to create conflicts of law and take away the rights of citizens." Jenkins could not be reached for comment by deadline.
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