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The Loose Goose development is the brainchild of Andrew Doolittle and business partners. 
SBJ file 
The Loose Goose development is the brainchild of Andrew Doolittle and business partners. 

Mayor calls P&Z vote a ‘slippery slope’ 

Posted online

A Springfield City Council member apologized and the mayor chastised his colleagues last night over voting down an appointment to the Planning & Zoning Commission at council’s Sept. 19 meeting. 

At the Oct. 3 meeting of Springfield City Council, Councilperson Mike Schilling said, “I take this opportunity to publicly apologize for my rash, impulsive vote at the last council meeting which resulted in the defeat of Andrew Doolittle’s appointment to the Planning & Zoning Commission by a one-vote margin.” 

Schilling chairs the Public Involvement Committee, which nominated developer Andrew Doolittle for an open seat on the Planning & Zoning Commission. Doolittle is one of the developers of the Loose Goose project at the corner of Grant Avenue and Grand Street. The Loose Goose project is the first new retail business approved for the Grant Avenue Parkway, which is zoned to prohibit drive-thrus and package liquor sales, both of which Loose Goose will have following a rezoning approved by council Aug. 22. Schilling and two other council members voted against the development, but the resolution passed. 

Schilling said Doolittle’s experience in real estate and development showed him to be a worthy candidate for the P&Z Commission. He admitted he was opposed to the Loose Goose project and voted against it, in keeping with city staff recommendations. 

Schilling said when his committee met in July, Doolittle’s application for P&Z stood out. At the Sept. 19 meeting, rather than being passed as part of council’s consent agenda, the item was separated at the request of Councilperson Craig Hosmer, and Hosmer, Schilling, Heather Hardinger, Monica Horton and Abe McGull voted against the appointment. No discussion preceded or followed the move. 

“When my turn came to vote, I impulsively said no, prompted by a bit of lingering spite about the development project,” Schilling said. “It was wrong to betray Mr. Doolittle on that account and a disservice to the council, my constituents and the public at large. … I’m sincerely sorry for my lapse in ethical judgment.” 

Mayor Ken McClure offered harsh criticism of the five council members who voted against Doolittle’s appointment.  

“Shortly after the Sept. 19 council vote, I reached out to Mr. Doolittle and personally apologized to him for the embarrassment and treatment he experienced at the hands of City Council,” McClure said. “I was embarrassed for him and for City Council. It was not council’s finest hour.” 

He told council that voting no without explanation was not acceptable. McClure critiqued the notion that a developer would automatically experience explicit bias or the perception of bias, noting if such perceived conflicts were real, council must consider whether anyone involved with property development should be considered for P&Z. Such conflicts could come from architects, engineers, attorneys, lenders, insurance agents, general contractors, subcontractors, business owners and managers, or members of neighborhood associations, he said. 

“I fear that we are needlessly embarking on a very slippery slope where there are no winners and our community is the loser,” McClure said. 

He added those who would cite a conflict of interest must not be aware of the strict ethical provisions found in the city’s charter and code. 

“The media reports inexplicably omitted reference to these,” he said. 

Springfield Business Journal reporting did, in fact, note P&Z’s procedural rules requiring commissioners to abstain from voting or participating in hearings if an implied conflict of interest exists. 

McClure said his colleagues who voted against Doolittle’s appointment should have done their homework, and he added the strength of P&Z is its diversity of perspectives and backgrounds. 

He said council damaged itself and its credibility with the vote. 

Also speaking up against the vote was Matt Morrow, president and CEO of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, who offered his comments during the public input portion at the end of the meeting. 

Morrow thanked council members for serving, adding, “There are a lot of other people in our community who also want to serve for the right reasons. They also love Springfield. They also are committed to the best outcomes for the community.” 

He said people in the building trades have expertise to contribute to P&Z. 

“In a group of nine members of a Planning & Zoning Commission, it’s not unreasonable to think that a couple could have a perspective that would be specific to having that first-hand experience in planning and development,” Morrow said, noting issues faced by the commission often are complex and highly technical. “Having that voice at the table could be very helpful.” 

Morrow said one problem was that nobody knew the reason for the unusual move of pulling the appointment from the consent agenda and then voting it down without discussion. 

“As you lead in our community, you’re always sending messages to our community, and one of the messages is who’s welcome to participate in this process and serve in these capacities and who’s not,” he said. 

In this case, Morrow said, it sounded as though an entire profession was being disqualified. 

“It was concerning to me and I think to a couple of other people that reached out to me about that and wondered if the developer perspective can be part of the conversation,” he said. 

Hosmer declined to comment after the Sept. 19 meeting about his reason for removing the appointment from the consent agenda, except to say that constituents had asked him to do so. He did not respond by deadline this morning to a request for comment following this week’s meeting, either, but in the past, he has raised concerns about the voices of the chamber and building organizations being weighted more heavily in decision-making processes than the voices of residents. 

Several high-profile conflicts exist in Springfield regarding development efforts. The zoning change to accommodate Loose Goose despite staff objections resulted in a split council vote. Additionally, the entire Springfield community will be asked to vote Nov. 8 to settle a zoning dispute in Galloway Village. That disagreement has pitted the developer against the neighborhood association and led to a court battle. The project was proposed in 2018, and resulting litigation between the parties concluded with a June 8, 2022, appeals court ruling in favor of residents of Galloway Village. 

A disagreement between developer BK&M LLC and some members of the University Heights neighborhood is ongoing as the developers seek to put a retail establishment on the corner of National Avenue and Sunshine Street. A landmark home at 1755 S. National Ave. at the center of the conflict was razed by the developers today.


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The fact that Mr Doolittle presented a development plan with drive thru and package liquor sales at the corner of grant and grand, is enough to deny him a seat on the P&Z commission in my opinion. This development will end up being a major headache for residents in the surrounding neighborhood, and will do nothing to help detour crime and drunks. It will make it worse. This town is becoming more and more of a joke.

Tuesday, October 4, 2022
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