Minutes for the Springfield Planning and Zoning Commission

Date: August 4, 2011
Time: 6:30 P.M.

The regular meeting and public hearing of the Planning and Zoning Commission was held on the above date and time in City Council Chambers, third floor of City Hall with the following members and personnel in attendance: Shelby Lawhon, Chair; Thomas Baird, IV; Gloria Roling; Phil Young; Jay McClelland; Tom Rykowski, City Attorney; Mike MacPherson, Senior Planner; Sandy Goddard, Administrative Assistant; Paula Brookshire, Professional Engineer: Cody Marshall,  Professional Engineer.  ABSENT: King Coltrin, Jim Hansen, and Matt Edwards.


The minutes of the July 21, 2011, meeting were approved unanimously.


Mr. MacPherson relays to Commission that the City Attorney has advised him that two (2) members of the Commission will have to recuse themselves with regard to item #5, Zoning Case Z-11-2011 and item #8, Preliminary Plat for Warren Davis Properties. Under the rules of procedure, there has to be a minimum of five (5) people voting, and if two (2) members recuse themselves because of a conflict of interest, which we strongly recommend they do, if that is the case, then we can’t hear the cases. I have talked to the engineer, the design engineer, just briefly, and my recommendation to the Commission is that it be tabled and continued to August 18. We were planning on canceling the August 18 meeting, but we can hold the meeting on that date to hear those two cases if the Commission so desires.

Mr. Lawhon states that they will deal with that when they arrive at those cases.

(These consent cases will be approved by Commission unless a Commissioner or someone else wishes to speak to them.  If so, those cases will be moved to the appropriate place on the agenda and they may be spoken to, and voted on, at that time.)    

  1. Property Disposal 489                                   City Utilities
    (Farm Road 68)

 2.  Subdivision Variance 335                                    Kensington Place Development Group, LLC
     (2900 block of E. batttlefield, N. side)

 3.  Subdivision Variance 336                                    Steven and Julie Broadbent
     (3900 block of W. Chestnut Exprwy, N. side)

Mr. Lawhon introduces the three consent items on the agenda, noting that the address on item      #2 has an address of Battlefield E, 1900 block, but actually it is the North side, 2900 block E                  Battlefield. That is an address change; otherwise everything remains the same on the consent    agenda. He asks for discussion.      ;   

               Mr. McClelland motioned to approve Consent Items, Property Disposal 489, and Subdivision Variance     335 and Subdivision Variance #336. Mr. Ray seconded the motion.  Motion carried as follows:  AYES:                                            Lawhon, McClelland, Ray, Roling, Young and Baird.  NAYS:  None.  ABSTAIN:  None.  ABSENT:    
               Coltrin, Hansen and Edwards.



4.     Z-10-2011                                               Earl Steinert
       (1900 block of E. Republic, south side)

Mr. Young recuses himself.

Mr. MacPherson introduced the case stating that the conditional overlay district in this proposal requires the development to construct sidewalks along the Republic Road frontage, provide a cross access easement between the westernmost permitted driveway to Republic Road on the subject property and the western property line in a location acceptable to the Director of  Public Works, provide a pedestrian access from the development on the subject property to the existing sidewalk on Raven Avenue, and provide a 90 foot long right-turn lane to serve the westernmost driveway. (This driveway shall be located directly across from the driveway serving the YMCA.)

The existing Conditional Overlay District #7 has a restrictive floor area ratio (FAR) of .233 because the applicant on the existing zoning was unwilling to conduct a traffic study to justify a larger floor area ratio (FAR). The typical floor area ratio for a GR District is .40, and the current applicant has requested a floor area ratio of .40 and has submitted a traffic study in support of that request.

Mr. MacPherson states that he has had several calls with questions, regarding the FAR, Floor Area Ratio, and for the record, he would like to elaborate.  The building footprint could occupy 40% of the 4.74 acres and that can be translated into floors. As the building would go higher, the footprint would become narrower and likewise as the building was smaller, the footprint would become wider to occupy that 40%. Mr. MacPherson referred back to the staff report for comments.  There was a traffic study submitted by the applicant on this case to justify the .40 floor area ratio, and if there are further questions about the traffic impact study, we would refer you to Paula Brookshire who has done the analysis on the traffic impact study, which also in turn helped her to create the items included on the conditional overlay district to accommodate the request in support of the .40 floor area ratio.

Mr. MacPherson continued to review the staff comments and went into detail regarding the bulk plane. He explained that when you build in a General Retail district adjacent to a Residential district, the building height is restricted. For every foot of height the building goes up, it must be a minimum of 1½ feet from the district boundary line. As an example, if the building was 60 feet in height, the floor print of the building would have to begin at a distance, at the minimum, of 90 feet from the residential district.
Mr. MacPherson comments that there have been several calls in regards to this case, and he wanted to highlight some of the issues that have been expressed. There have been issues and concerns addressed regarding the height of a potential building with a hotel on that site. That is why he went into detail about the bulk plane requirement, and the buffer yard so you would have that information as to what the zoning ordinance requires to help accommodate that as it occurs. This is a zoning case and there is no foot print, location, or site plan for any type of building that could go on this property. This zoning case if approved, or if recommended for approval, would merely authorize uses that are generally permitted in the general retail district; unless those were opted out and added to a conditional overlay district that would include a multitude of uses. Examples of these would be: art galleries, museums, libraries, bed and breakfast, catering businesses, commercial gardens, churches, farmers markets, off street parking lots, community gardens, day care centers, eating and drinking establishments, entertainment, use groups, funeral homes, mortuary’s, general office groups, house hold recovery collection centers, medical office group, personal services, police and fire stations, private clubs and lodges, private parks, playgrounds, miniature golf courses, and for public services, utilities uses, telecommunication towers as well as uses included within the retail use group which in the general category, such as schools, seasonal outdoor sales, taxidermy, temp lodging and so on.  I read that because one of the commissions asked that information be provided, for the record, as to what some of the other uses were. Mr. MacPherson states that there have been several people that have filed protest petitions.

The Protest petition is not applicable at the Planning and Zoning Commission, however, the protest petition will be certified by the City Attorney and City Clerk’s office, working with public works; it requires that those people who are protesting, living within 185 feet of the property, if 30% of the property owners file a protest petition, then a minimum of 6 members of the city council would have to vote for the zoning to approve it. I say that just to let you know that the petitions have been filed and to outline the parameters of what it requires and what the implications are for those to occur. The second concern was regarding stormwater, to which we had several phone calls and visitations. A map is referenced on the overhead screen, outlining in red, a watershed area of 28.3 acres. Many of the properties were developed prior to the implementation of stormwater measures and quite frankly, there are no storm water facilities on Lark Street, other than the street, curbs, and gutters that carry the water. There is, at the west end of the commercial properties, one property that has an underground detention facility and another property has a small detention facility.

Mr. MacPherson references (on the map) the subject property, that you can see the contours of the property. Water that is generated on that property will flow toward Republic St. and you can see that by the contours. There is also an existing spring on the property that will have to be dealt with and the water that is collected would have to be released at a rate not to exceed the historical rate. Cody Marshall, a professional engineer from the Public Works Department has spent a great deal of time researching this issue and he is prepared to go into greater detail than I have at this time. I have the layman’s perspective of an engineering situation to give you a foundation so that you may be able to frame your questions to him or to respond to questions or comments from the public. Mr. MacPherson reviews the staff recommendations and findings, recommending the request be approved.

Mr. Lawhon asks about the floor area ratio, wanting to clarify for his understanding that the ratio might change as the building goes higher, saying that sounds counter intuitive.

Mr. MacPherson responds that the floor ratio is spread out into the building in different floors

Mr. McClelland asks for clarification on the zoning ordinances, citing the example given regarding the bulk plane of 45 degrees. Is that merely an example or is the 30 degrees applicable to GR?

Mr. MacPherson states that it varies by district. The most protected districts are the residential districts. A 45 bulk plane is a one to one ratio, and that would mean that for every one foot that the building went up in height, it would have to be one foot off the district property line. The 30 degree bulk plane is more stringent than that and requires a larger distance away, which is 1 ½ feet for every foot up, because it is next to a single family residential district.

Mr. Lawhon opens the hearing to the public.

Mr. Larry Phillips, 2504 Wildwood, Springfield, representing the developer of the property and Pellham Phillips, who submitted the application, states that he will answer any questions regarding the property and its development. The exhibit he brought was 2 pages of a preliminary project layout showing a 5 story hotel with 110 units. He references the bulk plane issue that was discussed previously, stating that they have projected a 30 degree bulk plane from the property line. The maximum building height at the location of the building could be a maximum of 88 feet. The building that is planned is 59 feet, well within the bulk plane. The other issue Mr. Phillips wanted to point out is the main body of the building would not start till 156 feet from the back of the property line, so the buffer is certainly no problem, which is showed on the project layout. He states there was some question as to what exactly was being planned, and the preliminary play layout he shows, what was planned showing the hotel as it would be conceived at this point. You can get an idea, as a plan was not submitted, that this is approximately the plan that would take place on this side, and this is a five (5) story building.

Mr. Lawhon asks Mr. Phillips where the trash receptacle would be located.

Mr. Phillips points to its location on the preliminary project layout, saying that it is a complete enclosure.

Mr. Lawhon asks about the lighting, on the south side of the property, on the back side of it.

Mr. Phillips states they would have low level lighting that is shielded from the house side, over on the residential side.

Mr. Lawhon comments that it would be oriented towards the building.

Mr. Phillips confirms it would all be oriented toward the building. He cites the good thing about this particular site, being located 156 feet from the property line, you will notice that the parking lot lighting would be approximately 75 to 80 feet from the property line, so any kind of spill over that we would get would be negated by that distance, but we would have house side shields to make sure no lighting would spill over into the neighborhood.

Mr. Lawhon asked about fencing.

Mr. Phillips states there would be fencing associated with the buffer, referencing the layout.

Mr. Lawhon refers to the layout and the location of the buffer.

Mr. Phillips refers to Buffer E on the layout, which was spoken of earlier.

Mr. Lawhon comments about the variety of plantings along with the fencing.

Mr. Phillips states they would have the opportunity to extend the buffer if that would be a request, that they do have the area to allow that.

Ms. Roling asks about the detention area, asking him to point it out on the layout.

Mr. Phillips points to an area on the layout, saying that it hasn’t been designed yet, referencing the layout showing where the spring is at, mentioning a spring box to take care of the flow and would design it to the stormwater requirements.

Ms. Roling asks about the type of fencing being used.

Mr. Phillips states he does not know the type of fencing, but that it would comply.

Mr. McClelland asks Mr. Phillips about the water that collects on Lark Street, stating the application will not affect that because it comes off those 28 acres.

Mr. Phillips states that is correct.

Mr. McClelland asks if they have any plans to help alleviate the water.

Mr. Phillips states that he really can’t, because if you will look at the contours associated with this site, all our water is going this way. Anything I would do on our property is not going to help their situation down here, nor will it hurt.

Mr. McClelland asks if it will make it worse.

Mr. Phillips says no, and states it will not affect it in any way.

Mr. Lawhon asks Mr. Phillips not to go away, and asks Ms. Brookshire if a traffic study been done?

Ms. Brookshire states a traffic study was submitted and the requirement for the right turn lane came from that traffic study.

Mr. Phillips points out the lane to Mr. Lawhon. He also points out one of the requirements of the overlay; that they have modified the turn lane so that it is exactly across from the YMCA, and put in the sidewalk to connect from street to street across the property as was required. The cutout was a curb cut that would allow a cross easement to the church that was part of the overlay, so he believes all the requirements of the overlay have been met, or their intention is to do so. The only thing they are trying to change is the FAR.

Mr. Baird states he has a traffic question, asking Mr. MacPherson to put up the arial view of the site. Coming off Boulder Avenue, which is east of the property, the Arbors at Ravenwood, they have a drive going back off of Boulder going back to the West, there is no parking lot there and there is no connections to it, are you familiar with...

Ms Brookshire states she will need to see the map.

Mr. Lawhon asks about a stop light on that road.

Ms. Brookshire states the traffic study considered a stop light, but the stop light, and I have to look at the map to see the name of the street, but the stop lights nearby are too close, and if we put another one there, the traffic could back up and affect the next light so it would not be a good location for that.

Mr. MacPherson displays the overhead map. He points out the subject property and Charleston Street and Lark Street...

Mr. Baird asks what the strip of concrete that comes out that doesn’t connect to a parking lot, what is the purpose of that. Was it supposed to connect to this property?

Ms. Brookshire responds that as far as she knows, it was not intended to connect to the property. We look at access on a primary arterial, based on the frontage of the property, and the property has enough frontages to have two (2) access points. If they are connected to something like that, it would be fine, but they are allowed two access points on Republic. She asks if that helps.

Mr. Baird responds yes, stating that he was at the subject property earlier and could not figure out what that was for, if it was to connect to something or what it was.

Judy Wilson, 1904 East Lark, Springfield, I am speaking in opposition to this building project and to the rezoning proposal. In 2008 this property was rezoned from office designation. At that time those of us who live on Lark Street and around this choose not to petition to oppose that rezoning because the proposed development looked like this (has an overhead display). It was a two story mixed office retail and residential property with the proposed buffering, screening and so on, it would have very little impact, we felt, on our residential street of single family homes and duplexes. We choose again not to petition to object to that rezoning because we thought that was what was going on there. Now we are talking about a five (5) story hotel. One of the things that you cannot see from these diagrams is the contours of that property. My home is at the top of, or the south end of the dead end of Raven Place. My front door, my bedroom windows look directly into the windows of the proposed hotel. Because of the way that property sits, and the way our homes are on a slight rise, there is no way that buffering will effectively shield us from most of the hotel rooms on that hotel.

If you wish to see what that effect would be, I would suggest you drive along 2200 block of East Lark and see how the Garden Hilton Inn has impacted those people. You will understand why we are objecting to this building proposal. One of the other things that we wanted to stress was that as citizens, as residents of this area, we knew that Ravenwood was facing Republic Road, Republic would go commercial, and we knew this was logical. But with a two story building we felt the burming and plantings and so on would effectively shield us so that we could retain our single family homes and our duplexes. That is the main objection that I wanted to present to you, that this will be very intrusive in a single family residential area. There are already nearly 700 hotel rooms available along that Republic Road corridor, but they mostly, except for the Hilton Garden Inn, do loom over mostly commercial properties. They are not affecting single family residences like this one will. I have a group of petitions, informal petitions that 170 residents of Raven Wood have signed in objection to this. One of the things you will notice is that the addresses seem to vary. The planning and zoning department is using an 1800 E Republic Road location, other information we are getting is referring to it as 1900. I’m not certain why the variation in address, but our petitions state 1800, and now we see some of the more legal descriptions as 1900. I will leave this with whom…

Mr. Lawhon directs Ms Wilson to give them to Ms. Goddard and thanks her for bringing them.

Ms. Wilson says that completes the information she wanted to provide to the commission as a resident in that spot, asking if the commission had any questions for her.

Mr. McClelland states that what he is hearing from Ms. Wilson is that she is not objecting to the point of the water drainage, because they will have nothing to with the water drainage; what she is objecting to is the view.

Ms. Wilson says the height of the building on that particular piece of property, yes.

Mr. McClelland asks about the address at 1917, I think it is, at her duplex there.

Ms. Wilson says that no, 1904 is her single family home at the top of Raven Place Avenue; it is a straight shot through…

Mr. McClelland states that according to the documentation that was sent she has a duplex across the street there.

Ms. Wilson states no, that is Judy James and she is next.

Mr. McClelland reaffirms Ms. Wilson’s objection, that the street that is a dead end street into the subject property, that she is going to able to look out her door and look into the hotel. That is her major objection.

Ms. Wilson states yes, and at five stories there is no way it can ever be burmed or shielded from us. There are points to be made about water runoff and Ms. James is going to address that, and she does have a concern about that, but Ms. James has a more direct concern.

Mrs. Judith James, 1916 E. Lark, Springfield. She and her husband Bill also own the duplex across the street from her home. The address is 1917 and 1919 East Lark, stating they have been residents of Ravenwood for 34 years. She asks if commission has a copy of a memo from Mr. Marshall sent to Mr. MacPherson on August 1, 2011, and if not she would like to distribute a copy to the commission.

Mr. Lawhon states they have the memo.

Mrs. James continues, stating that they are opposed to the Zoning Case Z-10-2011 at 1900 E Republic, and would like to speak about their concerns. She has pictures to present and uses the overhead display. The map she is referencing was furnished by Cody Marshall, the Stormwater Engineer for the City of Springfield. Mr. Marshall sent a memo to Mr. MacPherson with the Planning Department on August 1, 2011, which he referenced, and I quote, “Drainage Issues related to Zoning Case Z-10-2011 at the 1900 blk of East Republic Road south side,” and you all say you have a copy of that. In the third paragraph, Mr. Marshall says, and I quote, “there is a documented existing drainage problem along E. Lark Street, with a drainage area of at least 28 acres draining to the intersection of E. Lark Street and Raven Avenue.” Now if you will look at this, you will see Mr. Marshall’s map. For years we thought the surface water drain off was from one development only, McKesson, which she references and locates on the map.

We thought this was where all the water was from, coming down Lark, and as you can see the stormwater runoff encompasses all of this, for the 28 acres. This is business and residential properties. Mrs. James points out on the map where their duplex is located, stating that it backs up to the subject project. She shows on the map, a location in blue, where the wet stream is at, saying that the water is running continuously, unless in a drought situation like now, it runs all year long, winter, summer, all the time. Mrs. James states that she would like to provide pictures of what the actual real time looks like when the water running.

Photograph one is representing the west end of Lark where McKesson is located. They have a V, located up there and all the water runs down Lark. Photo two, represents how the water comes down around the corner of Lark and shoots down Raven Place. Photo three shows the water running down the east side of Raven Avenue. Photograph four is where the water is hitting the subject property, which we are here to discuss tonight.

Photograph five and six is looking at the subject property up for rezoning tonight; as you can see I have the YMCA marked, so you can get your bearings to see where it is. The YMCA is on the north side of Republic facing the subject property.

In the last photograph she presents, Mrs. James shows what 28 acres of drainage water looks like when it flows to Wet Spring. The wet spring runs through the middle and is next to Ravenwood Assisted Living and there is a drainage pipe there. That is where all the water goes. Now I have one more exhibit to look at, this gives you a closer view of what we are talking about. She references the wet spring and where it runs to, and even though we are downstream from this, we are very concerned about how this tremendous amount of water will be channeled behind their duplex, should there be a development of any kind. The wet spring does run continuously. My question to planning and zoning is, has the Department of Resources been notified of documented drainage area of 28 acres draining to the intersection of East Lark and Raven? Has the Department of Resources tested this drainage for contamination from the runoff?  The 28 acres does encompass residential and commercial properties. My second question is…

Mr. Lawhon asks Mrs. James to wrap up her comments.

Mrs. James asks if the Department of Resources has tested the wet spring that runs in the middle of the subject property that is up for rezoning? All surface water has been running to the wet spring for years. In my opinion, the Planning and Zoning Commission is putting the cart before the horse, and this zoning should be reviewed. The current storm water drainage issue should be dealt with and resolved including input from DNR in order to ensure the safety of and wellbeing of our residents.

Mr. Lawhon asks when the pictures were taken.

Mrs. James states the pictures were taken November 5, 1008
Mr. Lawhon asking how much rain there had been.

Mrs. James said there was probably 4 to 5 inches of rain. They were preparing to go to the first zoning hearing and when they had the rain, she took the pictures for council to look at. She also states the pictures are documented for the first proposal at that time.

Mr. Baird, to clarify his understanding, asks Mrs. James that what she is concerned about, as far as the drainage, is not necessarily what additional stormwater issue this creates, but that her concern is when the property is developed, what happens to that stormwater that currently comes down, is that what…

Mrs. James states that she knows the answer to that question. Nothing, because it’s already been discussed that they can’t do anything about that. She states her main concern is the contamination that may be carried in this water, because we thought it came from one property; as it turn out, it comes from 28 acres of commercial and residential properties. I would like to take a step back and have the DNR come in and test this water and see if we are dealing with contaminates. This is our neighborhood, this is our street.

Mr. Baird states that the contaminants and the stormwater runoff from the 28 acres is a separate issue from the zoning of this property. He fails to see how Mrs. James sees the two issues as being connected. He refers to the pictures, and all the water coming from the west down Lark Street and then going on the subject property. If the council does not, obviously there is a plan to fix it, but it is an unfunded plan at this time. He says that regardless of whether this property is developed or not, there is going to be a drainage issue there.

Mrs. James agrees.

Mr. Baird asks Mrs. James how the development of this property is going to affect the stormwater that currently come down…

Mrs. James states that she does not believe it will, but the water is going on to the subject property, that is their responsibility, what are they going to do. That wet spring is a big concern as far as any development is concerned.

Roy Holand, 1840 E Vincent Street, Spfd, 65804. He has been a resident of Ravenwood for 20 years and here to speak in opposition, and represents Ravenwood as President of Ravenwood Homeowners Association. When you live in a neighborhood, you become aware of what’s going on, and we all expect places to be developed in some way, sooner or later. We are all trying to find a way to work this out to everybody’s mutual best interest.

Our initial concern when we heard about this was there was a rumor there was going to be a five story, 110 room hotel, and we were concerned particularly about the height issue. The other issues include the drainage issue. The volume of runoff is significant. All of Ravenwood drains the same way, down the street to the east end of the subdivision. I have another issue I’d like to point out, some will recall some 15 years ago, there was a gasoline station, pointing to location on the overhead map, and we need to talk about what’s happened in the neighborhood as a result of the leaky tanks at the station. This was recognized and turned over to DNR and they dealt with it and now there is no gasoline station there; for the last 5 years it has been closed. But they found that with the passage of time that the gasoline passed underneath the streets and it contaminated the adjacent property, Cumberland Presbyterian Church. They became involved with DNR and they are still in perpetuity with DNR because of the contamination of the soil. That started in 2007, and so they entered at that time into a restrictive covenant with the department of natural resources and there are a number of different phases to that. This property is contaminated up to the property line, there has been no testing over here (pointing to the map) and it makes sense that there may be some contamination moving across that imaginary property line that might need to be investigated and respected. The limitations of that on this property is, there can be no residential use, yet on the other side of the line, thirty (30) feet away, we are talking about temporary lodging.

One of the things that I noticed this morning, we have a couple of lodging places in our neighborhood, one of them is Residence Inn, and the other one is Extended Stay. It’s not up to us, but may be up to DNR to determine what constitutes extended stay or temporary use. That was one of their points that it requires advance notice to DNR if that is going to be considered as a residential property in any way they said.

Second, there is to be no drilling or use of ground water. This potentially could be contaminated, are they going to drill over in here to put down footings or anything like that? How deep will they go, we don’t know. This is all karsts topography in which we live, right?  If there is contaminated soil, it could flow down to the spring and then come to the surface if there was a petroleum contamination there.
The third limitation is soil disturbance; they cannot disturb the soil on this lot without permission from DNR. Do you think DNR is going to be interested on the other side of the line thirty (30) feet away, I don’t know? I think that might merit some consideration and contact with DNR. These are adjacent properties, is DNR going to be satisfied with that line or not.

The final limitation is that there cannot be any building on this property. But on this other side, they can disturb soil over there and they can build on that. I don’t know if that will come up, but these are things that need to be considered. This makes this a more complex case I think than you ordinarily encounter, and needs to be resolved before you make the zoning change. I don’t oppose making an appropriate change, but there are a lot of factors that need to be resolved first.

Ms. Roling asks Mr. Holand if any of the residents have had their property tested by DNR for contaminants.

Mr. Holand asks if she means residents of Ravenwood…

Ms. Roling says no, the residents surrounding the church property that you are talking about.

Mr. Holand states no. He has a map of the testing done by DNR and pointed to which property it was on. He said they did not do any testing on the adjacent lot or in the residential lots. He points to a lot that is part of the restricted covenant stating that it is owned by the church.

Ms.Roling asks if he is aware of any other issues.

Mr. Holand states the church has an issue with DNR.

Ms. Roling asks if the residents have issues with DNR.

Mr. Holand says no, the residences are not included in those restrictions.

Morgan Ash,1843 E Lark Street. I am a part time tenant there, but more importantly, I am also an attorney, representing the property owner located at 1841 and 1843 E. Lark; that being said, in addition to the previous considerations the property owner would like her to appear and object based on two additional issues and that would be an economic and also a security issue. The security issue simply is we are talking about usage as a five story hotel and the business hours that would be associated with the comings and goings of traffic. The concern is that it is going to be harder to monitor activity, possible crime, etc… verses a two story or even a one story retail space or office purposes with set business hours with regularly conducted business of that time period. The other issue, on the economic front involves once again the property usage. In today’s precarious economy, if the developer encountered difficulties and had a development of one or two story retail or office usage spaces, the repurposing of that property with resale would be easier to adapt to, as opposed to a five story building, built with the purpose of lodging.  As a hypothetical to this, not just if things don’t work out, so to speak, but long term, what happens when the business perhaps changes for other reasons. I would propose the following hypothetical, for instance, if the hotel franchise mandated renovation of such a type that the property owner decided that it would be easier to move elsewhere and build, and refranchise a new property as opposed to renovating or redeveloping the existing building. That would have significant impact on the resident with this neighborhood, in that it would be a lot harder to repurpose the five story building and the residents would be left with an eye sore and deterioration as opposed to one or two story retail or office space usage, and that is the crux of the objection.

Kent Sanders, 1915 E Swallow, states that he lives one block over from Lark Street.  He is concerned about the privacy issues and security issues that have been mentioned previously, of a five story hotel up against a residential neighborhood. Basically what we have seen down the street at the Hilton Garden is a five story building dwarfing the single family residences along that street. This is his main objection, and even though he lives a block over, he is still concerned about it, people from the hotel seeing in their back yards, being able to see the backside of the five story wall of the hotel. Even a 59 foot building, 159 feet away from the property line is still going to be a massive building against the residential district. What I would like to ask the commission to reconsider would be to keep the floor area ratio to a more reasonable .233 instead of the .24; that would keep the area of the building to a more reasonable level, and also the number of stories might be at a more reasonable level, less intrusive to the neighborhood.

Mr. Lawhon closes the hearing to the public.

Mr. McClelland states that he has listened intently to all the comments made by all the speakers. He has made two visits to the subject property, and it seems that everybody has the conclusion that there is going to be a five story hotel there where the property is being rezoned. There are more than 40 businesses that can be instituted into that space. Now regarding the drainage issue, the shopping center they approved in 2008, I’m not certain of the date, that the residents didn’t think was any problem at that point in time, I think they would have still have had the drainage issue they have now.  Secondly, I think it’s up to the residents to contact the Department of Natural Resources. They have an attorney in their midst, Ms. Ash, who would probable do a pro-bono with the Department of Natural Resources to help these people get this containment question solved. This is the extent of my conclusion on it. We are not here to vote if there is going to be a hotel or not, we are here to vote if we want to change the zoning.

Mr. Lawhon says this is one of those perfect examples of what we decide on the Commission. It is a zoning request. It is not a request to do a, b, or c. There has been a proposal, and I think that is what has been driving this, that is just my speculation, that’s what is driving the rezoning request.  We focus on what is an appropriate type of zoning, given the area, the comprehensive plan; is it legal, is it appropriate?  We don’t decide what the use is ultimately going to be. Those decisions are left to other entities within the City, within the parameters of the Commission. Having said all that, realizing that it doesn’t appear that traffic is going to be an issue, whatever happens, the stormwater issue would have to be addressed and as it appears to me now, I go by this many times a week. I’m aware of the contours of the land, both in the subject property drainage into those residences. Having said all that, I think that the zoning request is appropriate and one that I tend to approve and vote for.

Mr. Baird states that he has a question that may need to be addressed to the staff. It was a question brought up with Ms. Gaines. If all the 28 acres does drain down Lark Street and what we have seen by photos is that a portion or all of it drains onto the subject property, and the buffer or fence or something like that is built, it would continue to shove it downstream or allow it to flow downstream. It seems like that would cause more backup into the addresses of 1927 and 1929 E. Lark. How would it be addressed if it does channel the water into those people’s backyards? What is the rectification for that, or is there someone that can speak to that?

Cody Marshall comments that one of the requirements of the subject property is they are going to have to accept offsite flows that are coming to that property already. We have discussed the flow that is coming off of Lark and Raven, and they won’t e allowed to impede those flows. There won’t be any obstructions allowed that could cause water to backup onto these properties to the south. He asks Mr. Baird if that has answered his question.

Mr. Baird comments that it does a little, it speaks to the question, but how? This may be a question for Mr. Phillips. What is the plan for controlling the stormwater on that property?

Mr. Phillips states he will try to address that as best he can. It appears that we are getting the cart before the horse so to speak, in the sense as we submit the project on to the city for permitting, through building regulations, one of the things they look at very strongly is how we address the stormwater issue, both from the upstream and downstream and the retention of the site. Before we can ever get a building permit to dig one spade of dirt, we will have to address this to the city at that point. In direct to your question, how am I going to do it? I haven’t even thought about it yet, but obviously it is something that will have to be part of the project. Now whether that is an enhanced channel that comes through…In my mind, I think we will help them with this because we are going to create a direct channel through the side. Right now, it is a low lying and diffused area. What you see after a three inch rain, which we saw in the photographs, was more of a swamp, and obviously, as a developed piece of property, we are not going to have a swamp in our back yard.

Mr. Ray states that thus far in the conversations, he feels like we have down played the hypothetical situation of a five story hotel being developed here, as purely hypothetical, and yes, while this is a zoning case, and not a specific project approval, we are required to examine the maximum effect the zoning could have on the area.  I see that the five story hotel is feasible and would be toward the maximum effect of our decision if we choose to rezone it. However, considering all the protests brought before us that are serious and need to be addressed. The stormwater issue is obviously not in the hands of the property owners in this situation. The thing that I think plays up the most would be the site nuisance, or the invasion of privacy of the residents that are behind the hotel. Seeing the pictures that were e-mailed to us, of the Hilton Garden Inn, and seeing it from those backyards, it would be devastating to the home owners. With the topography if just compounds the issue. From an economic standpoint, as Mr. Ash pointed out, I think that if they are going to develop a hotel, they are going to invest a lot of resources doing a market study. I don’t think we should be concerned about whether the hotel is going to be abandoned in a few years, but also from an economic standpoint, this is a valuable piece of property for commercial development. It will continue to be valuable, so in 2008 when they proposed to rezone it and the project was potentially a two story mixed use development of office and retail, for whatever reason that didn’t play out, that could be of potential use, sooner or later. I think that we should consider that could be a reality in that, it will not be opposed as much and it could be as equal valuable use of this property as a five story hotel.

However, that would have less impact on the residents that live next door. Looking at it from all the perspectives, there are outside issues that need to be addressed from the City and DNR. Where I stand, I think we need to look at the maximum effect of approving the zoning case and I think that it’s not worth the potential maximum negative effect on the neighboring residents. So I would tentatively plan to vote no to this.

Ms. Roling comments on the traffic study that was done, asking if they used the criteria of a five story hotel to make a decision.

Ms. Brookshire states they asked them to look at the traffic study based on the zoning only. From a traffic standpoint, the hotel doesn’t generate as much traffic as retail or restaurant use might, so we actually asked them to look at the traffic study based purely on the zoning.

Mr. Lawhon asks Ms. Brookshire when doing a traffic study on a zoning case, a general retail for example; do you look at all the possible uses and look at what the traffic impact might be for all those?

Ms. Brookshire states they look at the trips generated by the use that would be the most intense. So we look at all the uses and decide which one is the most intense and then we do the traffic study based on that.

Mr.Baird motioned to approve case Z-10-12011, located at the 1900 block of East Republic Road. Mr. McClelland seconded the motion. The votes were as follows:  AYES:  Lawhon, McClelland, Roling, Baird. NAYS:  Jason Ray.  ABSTAIN:  Phil Young.  ABSENT:  King Coltrin, Jim Henson, Matt Edwards.

Mr. Lawhon said that the case has been approved.

Mr. Rykowski states that technically the rules require we have five votes to approve or disapprove any action of the commission. We need five votes’ yea or nay, to constitute a quorum to make a recommendation to City Council.

Mr. Lawhon states they have four to one, asking where that leaves the commission.

Mr. Rykowski states four/one means you are automatically tabled until…I was just reading, if you can’t get it, it is automatically tabled and comes up again at the next commission meeting.

Mr. Lawhon asks if that it would be August 18, 2011.

Mr. Rykowski confirms the date stating that if five had voted against, or five for, you would have had the decision. But a four/one split, we don’t have the necessary five to make a decision, so it is tabled and at the next meeting, there will several more Commissioners, Phil will still be aside, then if you can’t get five one way or another, it’s tabled again, I believe that the rules say that after three such votes it’s deemed denied, then at that point it ends here, unless the applicant requests that it be sent on to council, for council to review.

Mr. MacPherson let the Commission know that the next meeting is August 18, 2011.

Mr. Lawhon reiterates what has been discussed so that everyone understands, the case is tabled till August 18, and new public hearing or is it a matter of entertaining a motion to vote up or down?

Mr. Rykowski states he is uncertain, and will have to review that before the18th meeting. It will be proper for anyone who has not spoken, to address, but we would not be repeating it. This is new one for all of this.

Mr. Lawhon states that he has been on council for four years and has never encountered something like this.

Mr. Rykowski states they will be back on the 18th and it will be right.

Mr. Lawhon states that he would hope to see all those who spoke back on the 18th, and says he has a feeling he will. He acknowledged his appreciation for what they had to say.

Mr. MacPherson comments that staff will submit a memo to the planning commission when we know what has to happen at the next meeting in terms of people present and the vote and whether the public hearing has to be reopened. We have had contact with several members who testified tonight by e-mail and we will also copy them on any of the correspondence. We have done that to date and certainly will do that so they will have equal information and we will do that in this case.

Case was tabled to August 18, 2011. 

3.    Z-11-2011                                                       Warren Davis Properties XXV, LLC
      (1100 N. Glenstone)

Mr. Lawhon brings up the next item on the agenda, Z-11-2011, and also including item #8, Warren Davis Properties.

Mr. Baird states he has to recuse himself from the case because of a business interest.

Ms. Roling states she too has to recuse herself from the case because of a business interest.

Mr. Lawhon comments that the items will have to be tabled to the next meeting of the 18th.

One of the audience members stands asking if he can address the Commission.

Mr. Lawhon asks the name of the person wishing to speak, and what he wants to discuss.

Mr. Warren Davis, identifying himself and his architect Melissa Higdon, states he wants to discuss the action of putting off the case till the 18th.

Mr. Lawhon acknowledges Mr. Davis stating he can address the Commission.

Mr. Davis states he has a big project going, that they have addresses this, they are on a time table. He acknowledges that he is aware of rules and regulation, but states this shouldn’t be abstained or put off, no way. We have something that can bring 500 to 1000 people to town to work. We have done our work, we have done our job, so he is asking the Commission to go ahead and vote on it. He asks if it can be voted on.

Mr. Lawhon states that they cannot vote due to the recusal.  He explains to Mr. Davis they have only four members of the Commission able to vote, and that is not enough to vote one way or another.

Mr. Davis asks Mr. Baird if he is recusing himself.

Mr. Baird states he has to recuse himself because of the business interest.

Mr. Davis states that he does not have the bid yet.

Mr. Baird acknowledges his understanding of that, but states that he has spoken to the City Attorney and he was advised to. He apologizes.

Mr. Lawhon states that if there is any kind of perceived or potential conflict of interest a member can recuse themselves.

Mr. Davis states his understanding of that, commenting that normally you have nine members
Mr. Lawhon states that not everyone is here at every meeting, that there are things that come up in their lives.

Ms. Higdon asks the council if by taking the case to the 18th, what does that do to the rest of the council meetings and everything they have already planned.  If this were to pass tonight, then we would have been set for the September meeting. Now you are getting ready to delay another two weeks on it and you potentially lost…

Mr. Lawhon states that he is not certain, asking Mr. Rykowski and Mr. MacPherson to address this.

Mr. MacPherson states that he believes they can fast track this and stay on schedule with council.

Mr. Lawhon asks if they could hear it on the 18th…

Mr. MacPherson believes there is plenty of time if we re-advertise for the council hearing to be able to do that and maintain the existing schedule. He states they have done that before with issues like this.

Ms. Higdon states they would definitely ask for help in doing that.

Mr. Lawhon comments that they do not want to put road blocks in front of people in the community who want to do something good, but on the other hand we have our rules that we have to operate under.

Mr. MacPherson states that it is an unfortunate situation, and it’s very rare that this happens, but the problem is, if we took action, the action is invalid, and if anyone should challenge it along the way then we would have a serious issue, we would have to start over again. I think what we can do is delay it now and fast track it on the other end to City Council, I think we can do that.

Mr. Baird asks if it is possible to have a special meeting of this group, next week, just so there is no delay…

Mr. MacPherson states that the problem is, we have advertised for a public hearing, which requires fifteen days notice, and by tabling it tonight to a date specific, we are still covered by that particular advertising. If we don’t, we have another fifteen day waiting period, so this is the fastest way to get it to  that date. That is why we are asking....

Mr. Lawhon comments that a public hearing is required.

Mr. Davis asks if the group could be polled to see if anyone objected to it tonight.

Mr. Lawhon states that it doesn’t make any difference in polling the group, the decision lies with the Commission…

Mr. Davis states to poll the people here to see if there are any objections.

Mr. Lawhon tells Mr. Davis it isn’t going to happen.

Mr. Rykowski addresses Mr. Lawhon stating that technically speaking, with two people recusing themselves, you have four people; you do not have a quorum to conduct business. Further, since you can’t vote, you cannot have the public hearing tonight because you are going to have voting members that would appear at the public hearing. The problem is very unfortunate, I understand, however, you must have five members to conduct business, and as Mr. MacPherson said, this can be set aside as being an invalid action of this Commission by anyone who may or may not be in the room or may or may not harbor anything against Mr. Davis. It is unfortunate, but it would be an invalid act by the Commission. You really aren’t even in session for this right now because you lack a quorum.

Ms. Higdon asks if the Commission could fast tract this issue, it would be most helpful.

Mr. Lawhon comments that it sounds like it will be possible to accomplish that…

Mr. Davis asks if he can be at the head of the agenda, at the next meeting.

Mr. Lawhon states that it will be on the agenda next time…

Ms. Higdon states he is asking to be ahead of the one that just got tabled…

Mr. Davis states he is asking to be ahead of it. Is that a problem…

Mr. Lawhon states it is alright with him, but doesn’t know if there is a precedence as to how thing appear on the agenda. He asks if anyone objects to it being the first hearing case on the agenda at the next meeting.

Mr. MacPherson tells the Commission that they have the authority to move it where ever they want it. I will reiterate so you all know, Mr. Davis and Melissa, that we will make sure we add this so it stays on track.

The case was tabled to August 18, 2011.              


4.    Neighborhood Meeting Amendment                                                        City of Springfield

Mr. McClelland motioned to table indefinitely the Neighborhood Meeting Amendment. Mr. Young seconded. Motion carried as follows:  AYES:  Lawhon, McClelland, Ray, Roling, Young and Baird.  NAYS:  None.  ABSTAIN: None. ABSENT:  Coltrin, Hansen and Edwards.


5.    Childer's Subdivision                                                        Maaco Investments, LLC
      (2607 W. Bennett)

Mr. MacPherson states the purpose of this proposal is to approve a preliminary plat to subdivide 5.2 acres into a two (2) lot industrial subdivision, including a request for a subdivision Variance from Section 407 (2) of the Subdivision Regulations which requires all lots abut by their full frontage on the street.

This particular lot is located at 2607 West Bennett Street. It has two (2) businesses on it; one is a heating and cooling business on the front and the other is a storage building in an L shape configuration as you can see by your map. The storage building facility does not have full frontage although it does has access from Bennett Street. It is our understanding this would enable the property owner to sell one of the properties. That is the purpose of the subdivision. It meets all the subdivision requirements of the subdivision regulations, all the requirements and staff is recommending approval of the variance, and in turn recommending approval of the Preliminary Plat.
Mr. Lawhon opens the public hearing.

Mike Childers, 1432 S Ginger Blue Avenue, property owner.  He states he is wanting to subdivide because he has had a lot of opportunity to sell the storage buildings. When he developed them, he wasn’t aware that the property had to be the same width all the way through. They both have full access and are self-contained; they were built that way intentionally.

Mr. Baird asks staff the reason for the full frontage along the street.

Mr. MacPherson states to make sure there is access to the lots so they can be developed. In the past they have had islands of lots that have been developed by just an easement running through other properties and if comes an island it conveys property and we sometime have access issues that arise out of that. So as a result of that we have included in the ordinance a requirement for full frontage, yet allow for a variance if  justified, and in this particular case because of the fact that it has the frontage and access to the property, both properties have access and are separate, it meets the requirements of the variance request.

Mr. Ray motioned to approve the Childers Subdivision Variance as presented. Mr. McClelland seconded. Motion carried as follows: AYES:  Lawhon, McClelland, Ray, Roling, Young and Baird.  NAYS:  None.  ABSTAIN:  None.  ABSENT:  Coltrin, Hansen and Edwards.

6.    Warren Davis Subdivsion XXV, LLC                                                        Warren Davis Subdivision XXV, LLC
      (1100 N. Glenstone and 1900 block E. Chestnut Exprwy, N. side)

Case has been tabled to August 18, 2011.


7.    Civility Tenets Resolution                                                       City of Springfield

Mr. Lawhon reviews the Tenet Resolutions stating that since he has been on the Commission, saying that it has been a pleasant thing in the sense that folks that have spoke to us about cases, have often time had very strong and emotional opinions, but in general, 99.9 percent of the time they have been extremely civil and respectful. Members on the Commission have been the same and our experiences have been good and are in line with the civility tenets.

Mr. MacPherson relates this was actually originated by the Chamber of Commerce Good Committee Group and they approached the City Council and the City Council and City Manager asked all the Boards to participate and consider passing the resolution.

Mr. Young states that this seems like it is an individual task, everybody needs to comply with this, but seeing there are three members missing, we don’t vote for the feeling of the other commissioners that aren’t here. Are we voting on this tonight, are we speaking for Jim about how he is going to behave, and King and Matthew? Are we going to have to wait for a full commission to do this?

Mr. Lawhon states that he doesn’t have any strong feeling one way or the other, we are here, and we have the quorum to do it if we want to.

Mr. McClelland motioned to table the Civility Tenets Resolution till all nine members of the Commission are available to speak their own mind, whether they do or do not want to sign this tenet. Mr. Young seconded. Motion carried as follows:  AYES:  Lawhon, McClelland, Ray, Roling, Young, and Baird.  NAYS:  None.  ABSTAIN:  None. ABSENT:  Coltrin, Hansen and Edwards.


Mr. MacPherson wants to comment about the unusual circumstances that occurred tonight. I apologize the issue arose, but I think we certainly did the right thing because I don’t want to ever take a chance of passing something without the necessary votes. If anyone would challenge it along the way then it would cause a delay that would cause it to start all over again. I think in both of these cases, we will be able to move them forward to City Council assuming they receive a favorable consideration at the next meeting. If they don’t, we will move in the same direction as we would have initially. If they receive favorable consideration, we will move them on the early September meeting to City Council and follow through with second reading and put it right back on schedule. If there is advertising that has to be conducted to make this occur, for the City Council Public Hearing, the City will absorb the expense. Sometimes the public work is clumsy but it is important that we follow the letter of the law, so that if we are challenged in future that it will stand.

Mr. Young asks, regarding the other members of Commission not present and not knowing the whole story of the cases, if at the next meeting Commission will have to go through this whole process again?

Mr. Rykowski states that normally you close the public hearing when you vote. The question is what about the members of the Commission that did not hear this? I will consult with my partners at the Law Department, it is possible that they could, it is videotaped, replay it on the Web. Certainly we do not usually reopen the public hearings unless something has changed, but the normal rule is the public hearing is closed. I will be looking at that, and it may very well be that the solution is to allow them to listen on the Web. There was a lot said tonight that may not be said at the second meeting and we don’t want these things to go on forever. We have to explore this tomorrow and will have the answer before the close of business tomorrow.

Mr. Young asks if the Commission would have to vote again or would those votes stand and the other three Commissioners come in and vote.

Mr. MacPherson states it would be a full vote

Mr. MacPherson comments to the Commission that in addition to the Web, there will also be a Record of Proceeding that they will review, and states that he knows each of the Commissioners have approved and voted on minutes on meetings where you were absent the meeting before, based upon what you have read. So it is a similar situation. The public hearing is closed, and I have seen this happen on numerous occasions and what we will do is to provide a detailed Record of Proceeding to all the Commissioners and they have the Web site to review also and that should bring everybody up to speed.

Ms. Roling states that she can see, because there was a lot of unanswered questions, that maybe there could be additional things that come up maybe the next time or not or additional answers. I wanted to say that, so this will not happen again, if you know you are going to have to recuse yourself to let Ms. Goddard know in advance so we can make certain this does not happen again because I know that this is frustrating to everyone that has to go through the process.

Mr. Young comments that on the 18th, when Warren Davis comes back, Roling and Baird are going to have to recuse themselves and I will be on vacation. He wanted to let Commission and Staff know.

Mr. MacPherson states that everyone will be polled in advance.

Mr. Lawhon asks how soon the broadcast or audio will be available.

Public TV states that they broadcast live tonight and is sure it is on the Web.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at approximately 8:15 p.m. 




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