Minutes for the Springfield Planning and Zoning Commission

Date: August 19, 2010
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, Vice-Chair; Thomas Baird, IV; Gloria Roling; Jim Hansen; Phil Young; Jay McClelland; King Coltrin; Matthew Edwards; Mike MacPherson, Principal Planner, Planning and Development; Ralph Rognstad, Director, Planning and Development; Matt Schaefer, Senior Planner, Planning and Development; Nancy Yendes, Assistant City Attorney; Mark Epps, Fire Department; ABSENT:Jack Wheeler.


The minutes of August 5, 2010, were approved unanimously.



(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.)  (No cases.)

Mr. Lawhon said he would be moving Agenda Item #2 ahead of Agenda Item #1, so that some members of the audience could witness the resolution of Item 2 more quickly.




1.     Form Based Code Overlay District                                               City of Springfield

(As mentioned above, this item was discussed second on the agenda.)

Mr. Rognstad said the proposed district would be similar to a Planned Development district “because it takes quite a bit of thought and study in order to actually get the district put together.” He said it looks “at the relationship of the buildings to the street.” He said it addresses the whole area of a development rather than just the site of the development. He described the “Transect,” which, according to a handout given the Commission, is “an important concept incorporated in the code.” He said “the way you view development, both public and private, within each T zone, is different.” As an example, he described how Campbell Ave. is configured downtown versus how it is configured on the south side of town.

He described some of the characteristics of six T zones. He said a developer proposing an FBC district would submit a map designating what the T zones would be. He said the Transect concept did not mean that density would always be highest in the central city and would decrease uniformly as one got farther from the central city. He said an applicant would be required to designate “communities.” He said that, so far, the communities identified, by staff, were “urban neighborhoods” and “activity centers.” He said there could also be a component called an “assigned district.” He showed on a graphic displayed in the meeting room how some of these communities would be laid out in a plan being proposed by city staff. He said the next step was to develop “what’s called the Regulating Plan; and the Regulating Plan is where you begin to look at the relationship of the street.” He described some of the traits of “primary and secondary frontages.” He said that another part of the Regulating Plan was the regulation of architectural elements. He gave, as an example, requiring a higher percentage of glass in the front of a building where you were trying to encourage retail development. Another aspect that would be regulated, he said, was building height. Another area of regulation would be the siting of a building on a lot. Another item subject to regulation would be the land use; but the requirements for land use would be “very generalized.”

Other items subject to regulation would include “architectural standards, street specifications, streetscape standards, ambient [i.e., environmental] standards, parking requirements,” and “other standards as necessary."

He said the form-based code assumes that the public will be providing infrastructure designed to achieve a certain end result and a private developer in the subject area is expected to develop his property in a way that is compatible with that public vision.

He then described the “design charrette” process. He said staff had set up such a charrette for August 31st through September 9th. The charrette would deal with the plan for the IDEA Commons. Mr. Rognstad described some of the logistics of that charrette.

On a graphic displayed in the meeting room, he showed an example of “another community’s” streetscape requirements. He also showed photos of two apartment complexes, one of which, he said, “turned its back” on the public street while the other was compatible with its public street. He said the form-based code encourages buildings to be compatible with their streets.

He said staff was proposing that the district under discussion would be an overlay district and that a developer could choose not to develop under it (could develop under the requirements of the underlying zoning district instead). He said staff was thinking of requiring less parking than normal of developers going the Form-Based-Code zoning route. Another FBC advantage for a developer would be that a proposal could be dealt with administratively rather than going through the usual Commission-Council approval process and thus a FBC proposal could be approved more quickly.

Mr. Rognstad said it was possible that some staff-initiated changes to the current ordinance might come out of the upcoming IDEA Commons design charrette. He said the Commission might also want to wait and see how the charrettte process played out before making its recommendation of approval or denial of the ordinance amendment.

Mr. Baird said he wasn’t sure it was a good idea to require that a parking lot be placed at the rear of a building. Mr. Rognstad said that in some transect zones the lots would not necessarily be located behind the buildings. In denser areas, he said, the idea would be that you would provide parking structures, and then people would park once and walk to the various businesses. He also said that if a business could not function well under an FBC due to the FBC area’s standards, then that business might be better off locating elsewhere. 

Mr. Hansen asked about Grand Rapids, Michigan; he asked how long it had been using its FBC. Mr. Rognstad said he didn’t know but could find out. Mr. Hansen asked why designers had gone from putting parking lots behind buildings to putting them in front of buildings. Mr. Rognstad said that many downtowns had developed when people walked and used transit more, while later developments were driven by the fact that people wanted to drive their private cars everywhere. He also described some other factors. He said that by adopting this amendment the City would have a tool that could be used if developers wanted to build at higher densities and with mixed uses.

Mr. Edwards asked how the application process for a developer wanting to develop under the FBC would work. Mr. Rognstad said that if a developer applied for a rezoning, the developer would pay for the costs, including the cost of a charrette. He said a developer would likely want a large proportion of the property owners in the subject area to be in favor of the rezoning. He said he would not expect to see a developer ask to rezone an area containing multiple property owners. Mr. Edwards said he was concerned that an owner in such a zone might be required suddenly to comply with such requirements as minimum height requirements on his building. Mr. Rognstad said the same kinds of problems might crop up in an ordinary zoning district. For example, a person might have a light-industrial site and the City might decide to allow residential zoning next to it. Then the person might decide he wanted heavy industrial zoning, but the City would be against that change because of the adjacent residential zoning.

Mr. McClelland asked about Sect. 4-2807.E.1 (p. 15 of the handout). He asked who would be asking for the “substantial modification.” Mr. Rognstad said that the property owner would be doing the asking. He said a similar situation held true for the current zoning districts, in that if a person, for example, wanted to add on to a structure, he would have to make sure the new addition conformed to the standards of the zoning district in which the structure was located.

Ms. Roling asked if this was a similar situation to the one “on National.” Would someone, she asked, who wanted to re-do their siding be forced to put on a siding that they couldn’t afford? Mr. Rognstad said that “that could come into play,” but that what was being proposed tonight did not require that any certain architectural standards be established.

Mr. Hansen asked how one writes a code that is specific enough to allow the achievement of a vision but that does not hamper creativity. Mr. Rognstad said there would still be room for creativity in the design of individual buildings, and he said the design charrrette would ensure that there was a certain amount of “buying in up front” on the design standards. He said that there was room for “variation” in design on both primary and secondary frontages. He said that once an owner in such a district had made his investment he could be assured that the other owners would also be required to make their investments in the ultimate appearance of the area. Mr. Hansen asked if Chesterfield Village was an example of form-based-code development. Mr. Rognstad said that “it has some elements of that,” but the land uses were segregated more than they would be under a typical form-based code.
Mr. Coltrin asked about Section 4-2801.C.1 (p. 6). He said he read that passage as saying his building must mirror a building located on the other side of the street. He asked, “Am I misreading that?” Mr. Rognstad said, “No, but it’s based on the requirements of the plan.” Mr. Coltrin said he thought he could accomplish everything proposed by the amendment by writing “all these codes in a Planned Development.” He asked about Section 4-2801.C.7. He asked if the civic buildings would control what he as a private developer could build. Mr. Rognstad said No, because this particular passage was “sort of a philosophy statement,” adding that, “What’s there ... wouldn’t govern what you could do privately,” because what would govern what you could do would be the standards of the district. Mr. Coltrin asked about Section 4-2802.A, which discusses the differences between the terms shall, should, and may. Mr. Rognstad said that, in the case of should, “if you come up with an alternative, the ARC can approve that.” Mr. Coltrin brought up Section 4-2803.B, which addresses architectural standards. He said he didn’t see how the word tradition applied to the IDEA Commons, because there are “several different types of buildings in there.” He asked if the costs to meet the standards for streets and streetscapes would be borne by the applicant. Mr. Rognstad said, not necessarily, because it could be a public cost. He said that sometimes the public improvements are made first and then the private development “comes along afterward.” Mr. Coltrin asked about subsection E, Ambient Standards. Mr. Rognstad said the option would be “to go with the existing noise standard,” and the developer would probably have to pay for a noise study if he proposed to go with a more lax noise standard. Mr. Coltrin asked if Section 4-2803.F.2 (“reduce ... single-purpose reserved parking”) meant that a developer would be prohibited from limiting parking to his customers only. Mr. Rognstad said you would try to reach this subsection’s goals, but you would not be required to attain all of them. He said the parking concept was a “park once type environment.” Mr. Coltrin brought up Section 4-2807.B.3, which addresses transect zone T3. He asked “where would you envision this occurring?” Mr. Rognstad said it would be in low-density areas. Mr. Coltrin asked who would be deciding whether a proposal “meets the plan.” Mr. Rognstad said the ARC would decide, and he said City staff would probably be participating in the charrettes. Mr. Coltrin brought up Section 4-2807.D.2, which addresses “shopfronts.” He said, “This sounds to me like something that is a shall, but I would hate to see a first-floor commercial sitting there empty because somebody decided that that was a good idea and it wasn’t the property owner themselves.” Mr. Rognstad said, “Actually I thought we had taken that out.” He said “We’ll look at that one again.” Mr. Coltrin asked about the next subsection, which includes the phrase terminated vista. Mr. Rognstad described what that phrase meant. Mr. Coltrin enquired about the item just below, which deals with “cross block passages.” Mr. Rognstad said that if the plan called for such a passage, that provision could indeed have an impact on a property adjoining the designated passageway. He added that, “You don’t have to designate a cross block passage” in a Regulating Plan.

Mr. Lawhon noted that on Section 4-2804.F of the proposal says that an applicant may appeal an ARC decision to the Commission.

Mr. Roling asked if Mr. Rognstad had ever participated in a charrette. Mr. Rognstad said that he had. She asked what kind of zoning would be appropriate for a property like Solo Cup, which is “sitting on 63 acres right in the middle of town.” Mr. Rognstad said you might want to go with a corridor plan that used a form-based code. She said she thought that redeveloping such an area might be very expensive for a developer. Mr. Rognstad said form-based codes tend to be applied “in denser parts of communities.” He talked about Miami’s experience with a form-based code.

At this point, 8:15 p.m., the Commission took a recess. It resumed its meeting at 8:30 p.m.

Mr. Young asked who would facilitate the design charrette. Mr. Rognstad said he would facilitate the one on the IDEA Commons; he said that normally the developer would be responsible for having someone facilitate the charrette. Mr. Young asked whether teams would be used at the charrette. Mr. Rognstad explained how things would be handled during the IDEA Commons charrette. Mr. Young asked who would decide what the final plan would look like. Mr. Rognstad replied that, similar to a normal rezoning case, the proposal and the contents of the Regulating Plan would ultimately be decided by the City Council. Mr. Young asked about the people who would be invited to the charrette. Mr. Rognstad described the kinds of disciplines and people that would be represented at the charrette. He said the Drury students would be were there mainly to provide architectural drawings. Mr. Young said he liked the concept of the Transect. He said he was also in favor of mixed-use areas, and he thought the FBC “does that quite well.” But he said he disliked a lot about the proposed amendment. He said he thought it would cut “the opportunities off both for the owners and the architects.” He said he did not think that making the district optional was particularly helpful. He said his main objection was that the proposal would limit an architect’s options and would force an architect to put his client’s needs second to the demands of the designs mandated by the FBC.

Mr. Lawhon asked if the City hoped ultimately to divide the whole city into FBC districts. Mr. Rognstad said that, over time, the City would probably try to give citizens examples of what was possible under the FBC. He said an FBC district could possibly, for example, be used to increase density along transit lines.

Mr. Hansen said he wasn’t sure whether the FBC was intended to be used anywhere in the city or if it would only be used for the IDEA Commons. Mr. Rognstad said it could be used anywhere in the city. Mr. Hansen said he did not feel ready to vote on the FBC at this time and he’d be in favor of tabling the case.

Mr. Young asked what would be the incentive for a developer to choose to develop under the FBC. Mr. Rognstad said he did not think the code would get much use if it were not made optional. He said that if the public sector began to make some investments along the lines envisioned by the FBC, that might create a tipping point and more private-sector developers would be willing to try the FBC.

In response to a question from Mr. Lawhon, Mr. Rognstad said that a design charrette would be required if someone wanted to rezone to an FBC district.

Mr. Lawhon opened the public hearing. No one spoke. Mr. Lawhon closed the public hearing.

Edwards made a motion to table the agenda item titled Form Based Code Zoning District. Hansen seconded the motion. Motion carried as follows: AYES: Coltrin, Young, Roling, McClelland, Edwards, Baird, Hansen; NAYS: None; ABSTAIN: Lawhon; ABSENT: Wheeler. 

Mr. McClelland said that, at the moment, he was against the proposal, because during the discussion tonight he had heard too many “mights, could-bes maybes trying-to and probablies.”

Mr. Lawhon said that he was moving Agenda Item #4 ahead of Item #3, because “we have a couple of interested gentlemen here” wanting to learn the fate of the proposal. 


2. Walnut Lawn                                       Springfield City Council
       (Walnut Lawn, 900-1400 blocks west)

(As mentioned above, this item was discussed first on the agenda.)

Mr. MacPherson reminded the Commission that this case had first been discussed on August 5. It was tabled so that someone from the emergency response community could address the Commission about it. He said he had received a letter from “Mr. Caudill,” and that letter should be found in the members’ information packets. (Mr. Caudill had spoken against the proposed name change during the public-hearing portion of this case’s review.) Mr. MacPherson said that staff had contacted E-911, the police department, the fire department, and Building Development Services, and all those entities had submitted new comments. He read the new comments.

E-911 commented as follows:

The original 911 comments are still valid. The street name should be changed and if there are houses that have access off north/south streets instead of the “old Walnut Lawn” section those residences should be renumbered/renamed to the correct street. Duplicate street names are an issue for responders in general and should be kept to a minimum.

The fire department commented as follows:

Fire has no issue with the name change. We actually support the changes so as not to have confusion in the future.... Fire Marshall Mark Epps [will] attend the P & Z meeting to answer any questions.

Building Development Services commented as follows:

Existing addressing numbers will not be changed. The only effective change will be from Walnut Lawn Street to Walnut Lawn Court. Planning will notify all affected parties by Mail and will also notify the Post Office of the Change. GIS will make the mapping changes and those changes will be provided to all emergency responders.

Mr. Epps came to the podium. Mr. Baird asked whether the fact that there are no houses on “new Walnut Lawn” in the subject area made this name change more or less needed. Mr. Epps replied that the situation was about the same regardless of whether there were houses on the new section of Walnut Lawn. He added that the fire department responds to auto accidents, and it was possible that a crew might assume an accident was on the new section when in fact it was on the old section of Walnut Lawn. He said there would be a problem if a fire truck approached form the east and missed turning onto Fort Ave., because the truck would not be able to turn around and double back until it reached Kansas Ave.

Mr. Coltrin and Mr. Lawhon asked whether a fire crew would use a laptop computer while in their vehicle on the way to a scene. Mr. Epps described the procedure a crew uses.

Mr. Hansen said that, in the interest of public safety, he was in favor of the name change.
Mr. Lawhon said he too was in favor of the proposal.

Edwards made a motion to approve the name change on the subject section of street from Walnut Lawn to Walnut Lawn Court. Baird seconded the motion. Motion carried as follows: AYES: Coltrin, Young, Roling, Baird, Hansen, McClelland, Edwards, Lawhon; NAYS: None; ABSTAIN: None; ABSENT: Wheeler.


3.   IDEA Commons Plan                                                   Planning Staff
         (Center City)

(This agenda item was discussed last.)

Matt Schaefer said the IDEA Commons is intended to be “a research park that incorporates mixed [land] uses.” It includes the Jordan Valley Innovation Center. The Commons is identified in the Jordan Valley and Jordan Valley Park Concept Plan and Design Guidelines as being a sub-district, 88 acres in size, in Jordan Valley. The plan would supersede the JVIC Activity Center Plan. The Plan consists of a Background Report, which gives data on the area, and a Plan Document, which sets goals and objectives. He said there have been numerous public meetings held to present the material in the plan. He showed the boundaries of the plan area on a graphic displayed in the meeting room.

He described some of the area’s existing conditions. Some of the problematic items include undersized water lines, substandard streets, the existence of a flood plain, the presence of railroad tracks, environmental contamination, and zoning not conducive to mixed-use development.

He said the goal of the plan is to “create a vibrant mixed-use community that is a model for innovative and sustainable development, [that] complements Missouri State University’s initiative to expand opportunities for business development and commercialization, and [that] supports the vision for Jordan Valley.” He said the objectives and recommendations revolve around four main issues: infrastructure, environmental remediation, land use regulations, and economic development incentives. He then read the objectives—and the accompanying recommended methods for achieving the objectives—listed on the Plan Document. On a graphic displayed in the meeting room, he described some of the features of the map of the district included with the Plan Document. He talked about some of the mitigating measures the Corps of Engineers might decide to recommend to deal with the possibility of flooding in the area. Mr. Rognstad said that some of the text of the Plan Document might need to be changed in light of the Commission’s decision tonight to table the FBC amendment.

Mr. Hansen asked, “How feasible is the idea of removing the railroad tracks and relocating spurs ...?” Mr. Schaefer said that a Grade Separation Study had stated in 2006 that it might take up to seven years and $30–40 million to accomplish those tasks. Mr. MacPherson gave some background information on what the above-cited study had recommended. He said that if a business were required to move from the Commons area, the City would need to “make them whole” financially. Mr. Rognstad said the City is “continually applying for grants” to get funds to implement the railroad study. Mr. Hansen noted that there are, currently, railroad tracks near or crossing Phelps Street. Mr. MacPherson gave some more information about the configuration of the tracks in the study area and the city as a whole.

Mr. Coltrin asked if there were any funds available currently for creating the proposed gateway features. Staff answered that such funds were not currently available. Mr. Coltrin asked who owns the majority of the property in the subject area. Mr. Schaefer said most of the property was privately owned. Mr. Coltrin asked when the “Army Corps’ study is ever going to come to a conclusion?” Mr. Schaefer said it was expected to be complete in 2012. He said there currently is no moratorium on development in the area.

Mr.Baird asked what would happen to the Plan if “the determination is made” by the Corps of Engineers that “the cost is too great” to deal with Jordan Valley Creek. Mr. Schaefer said there would be a possibility that the Corps and the City could split the cost of dealing with the creek. Mr. Rognstad said that some of the property owners might share in the cost. He said, however, that the Corps could also decide that, based on a cost-benefit study, the federal government would not put any money into improving the creek’s situation. He said it might also be possible to establish a CID to fund improvements in the area.

Mr. Lawhon opened the public hearing. No one spoke. Mr. Lawhon closed the public hearing.

Mr. Coltrin said he was confused about what Commission was being asked to vote on, especially since a Form Based Code was mentioned in the Plan Document and such a code did not yet exist. Mr. Rognstad said that the content of the Plan Document should be changed slightly to reflect what had happened tonight. There was some discussion of the actual language that should be used.

Baird made a motion to approve the IDEA Commons Plan with two of the sentences to be modified as follows. Under the objective “Encourage development of a mixed-use community with active streets, transportation choice and economic vitality,” the first recommendation is changed to “Explore the concept of a form-based code overlay district for IDEA Commons,” and under the objective “Create an identity for IDEA Commons,” the second recommendation is changed to “Provide incentives to encourage complementary, high-quality construction in new development.” Edwards seconded the motion. Motion carried as follows: AYES: Lawhon, Coltrin, Roling, McClelland, Baird, Young, Hansen; NAYS: None; ABSTAIN: None; ABSENT: Wheeler.   


4. Storage Trailers and Containers: Committee Report             Planning Staff

Mr. Hansen moved that this item be taken off the table. Mr. Edwards seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Rognstad said that the Commission had assigned a subcommittee to further study this issue. He said that the subcommittee had met earlier tonight and had had two main concerns: first, in residential areas, some containers stay on-site indefinitely; and second, there was a potential for a “general proliferation” of containers if there were no time limit placed on their use and no maximum number specified. He said that, nonetheless, the subcommittee had voted 3 to 1 to move the amendment forward without any changes. He described some of the logistics that would be involved in sending the amendment on to the City Council.

Mr. Edwards said his “concerns were assuaged” during the subcommittee meeting.

Mr. Coltrin said that the comments, during the subcommittee meeting, of the director of Building Development Services, a fire marshal, and two representatives of the container industry had addressed his concerns sufficiently.

Mr. Young said he still felt that a time limit should be placed on the containers and so he still opposed the amendment.

Edwards made a motion to approve the “storage container ordinance.” Baird seconded the motion. Motion carried as follows: AYES: Coltrin, Baird, Roling, McClelland, Hansen, Edwards, Lawhon; NAYS: Young; ABSTAIN: None; ABSENT: Wheeler.


There being no other business before the Commission, Mr. Lawhon adjourned the meeting at approximately 10:10 p.m. 




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