Minutes for the Springfield Planning and Zoning Commission

Date:

September 3, 2009

Time:

7:00 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: Jack Wheeler-Chair, Ed Alden, Ray Shermer, Jay McClelland, Matthew Edwards, Mike MacPherson, Principal Planner, Planning and Development, Ralph Rognstad, Director of Planning and Development, Nancy Yendes, Assistant City Attorney; ABSENT: Peggy Hedrick, King Coltrin, Shelby Lawhon, Michael Sutton.

 

Approval of Minutes:

The minutes for August 6, 2009 were approved unanimously.

 

Communications:

  • Mr. MacPherson said Item #5, Planned Development 271 and Item #8, Walnut Creek Phase III involve with the same piece of property and can be heard together. 

    Mr. MacPherson said at the previous Commission meeting Mr. Wheeler requested a neutral party from the Sign Code Task Force be present for the discussion on the Sign Code Revisions.  Mr. Furedy has suggested Ron and Leslie Carrier and Ms. Carrier will be present at tonight’s meeting.  She will provide the community viewpoint. 

    Mr. Wheeler said he has had discussions with staff regarding Mr. Sutton and staff will be sending a letter to determine his status on Commission. 

    Mr. Wheeler said on Zoning Case Z-11-2009 he was the only opposing vote to that case.  That case will be heard by Council on September 21 and he feels other Commissioner’s voting in the affirmative should be present to address any possible questions. 

    Mr. Wheeler invited to everyone to attend the upcoming ALS fundraising events. 

FINALIZATION AND APPROVAL OF CONSENT ITEMS:
(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. Relinquish Easement 738                                                                Drury University
  2. (700 block East Bob Barker south side)

    • Relinquish Easement 740                                Blackman Road Properties, LLC etal

(2225 South Blackman)

Shermer made the motion to approve the Consent Agenda.  Edwards seconded the motion. Motion carried as follows: AYES: Wheeler, Alden, Shermer, McClelland, Edwards; NAYS: None; ABSTAIN: None; ABSENT: Hedrick, Coltrin, Lawhon, Sutton.

 

HEARINGS:  

ZONING:

3.         Z-12-2009/Conditional Overlay District #30          Kenneth Hamilton etal
(2814 South Fremont)

Mr. MacPherson said the applicant is proposing to rezone approximately 2.38 acres for a proposed shopping center.  The overlay district will restrict the Floor Area Ration, require additional screening along Fremont, require a lot combination of the rezoned lots and limit signage height, size and display time.  The Comprehensive Plan designates this area as appropriate for high-intensity retail, office or housing uses because it is near a major Activity Center.  The GR district is intended for uses that provide community-wide personal and business services and it is comparable with the existing intensity of uses located east of Fremont.  The overlay district will require additional screening and restrict signage along Fremont and reduces the impact to the residential neighborhood to the west.  No building permits shall be issued for development within this district until the property is combined with all lots within the proposed rezoning following the City’s Subdivision Regulations.  The maximum Floor Area Ratio for this district shall be limited to 0.25.  If parking or a vehicular use area is provided within twenty-five feet of the right-of-way along Fremont, then a decorative headlight screen wall shall be constructed between Fremont right-of-way and such vehicular use area.  That screen shall be a thirty inch high masonry wall measured from finished grade to the top of masonry consisting of split face concrete block, brick, natural stone, cast stone or other approved masonry product.  The screen wall shall not be required at driveway approaches or where sight triangles are required.  All requirements of Section 5-1400 of the Zoning Ordinance shall apply except the following amendments.  The maximum effective area for any detached signs shall be one-hundred square feet.  The maximum height for any detached signs shall be fifteen feet above street grade.  Any changeable message or image shall be displayed on the sign for at least eight seconds without any change of movement.  Staff is recommending approval.

Brent Stevens, 5051 South National, said the Battlefield Mall is on two sides of this proposal with high-density residential apartments to the north and Fremont with some single-family across the street.  This property has an abandoned house on it and the current zoning does not facilitate redevelopment and there is a lot of existing vacant office and multi-family space at this time.  The tentative plan is to construct a small neighborhood retail center but there is not design at this point.  The overlay provisions are self imposed because they felt there was a certain level of protection needed to be provided for the neighbors. 

Mr. Shermer asked why anyone would want to build a shopping center with the down economy and asked if they had demand for it.  Mr. Stevens said he understands that the developer has a major tenant that wants to take most of the space.  They are currently outside of Springfield but would like to move to a more centralized location.  Mr. Shermer asked what use that would be.  Mr. Stevens said he could not say.  Mr. Shermer said within the GR district you can put in between 60-75 different uses and he asked when the project is expected to be completed and will it actually be a shopping center.  Mr. Stevens said he does believe it will and from his understanding once the zoning is changed the developer will be ready to finalize the agreements.  About half would be empty shopping space and he is talking to different businesses.  The location is key and is a prime location in the area.  Mr. Shermer said there are a lot of streets with single family residential that would be affected to some degree and is his concern.  Mr. Stevens said that was one of the discussions with the neighbors.  You have to compare the change with what could be there right now under the current zoning of O-1 and R-HD.  With the overlay district and the restrictions the zoning change is comparable. 

Mr. Wheeler said access to Fremont and Woodland would be provided but there is no mandatory cross access agreement for the properties to the south or east.  Mr. Stevens said it is not mandatory but there will be likely be some follow-up discussions between developers. 

Mr. Rognstad said Commission needs to look at the entire range of uses and determine if they are appropriate.  This developer may have good intentions but something could happen later and could change what may be located there. 

Mr. Stevens said there is a lot of GR zoning without an overlay district.  They wish to be consistent with current zoning in the area.

No one spoke in opposition.  The public hearing was closed.

Mr. Shermer said this proposal is another in a series of cases in which a commercial project will impact nearby homes.  He does not believe they have enough definitive information as to what type of businesses would be located here.  He will never automatically vote in favor of a commercial applicant because that is a dereliction of his duties to Commission, Council and the citizens.  He believes they could exclude some uses, as done before, which would give some assurance that the neighborhood would not be impacted by a nuisance business.  He asks the proposal be tabled to allow for limitations. 

Mr. Edwards said he understands Mr. Shermer’s position but how can Commission approve every business based on what Commission views is a valuable business.  Tattoo parlors are often talked down but it is not illegal or wrong to want to develop one even if Commission members feel it is wrong.  He would not want to set a precedence of having Commission approve every type of business asking for zoning.

Mr. Shermer feels they are representatives of the citizens of Springfield and of the neighbors.  He is trying to speak for their benefit and preserve their property values.  He does not see a problem with keeping things professionally and aesthetically positive.

Mr. Wheeler said a tattoo parlor can be located in the present zoning of office. 

Shermer made the motion to table Zoning Case Z-12-2009/Conditional Overlay District #30 to the October 8 meeting.  Edwards seconded the motion.  Motion carried as follows: AYES: Shermer, McClelland, Edwards; NAYS: Wheeler, Alden; ABSTAIN: None; ABSENT: Hedrick, Coltrin, Lawhon, Sutton.

Mr. Rognstad said it was not clear what uses were a concern.  Mr. Shermer asked staff to provide uses that are deleterious to this type of location with the next proposal.  That would include taverns and other uses not appropriate in staff’s mind.  Mr. Rognstad said that is a matter of opinion. 

Mr. Wheeler said he does not believe it is staff’s position to bring that in; it would be up to the neighbors.  There was a neighborhood meeting and no further requirement for one.  He also is not sure what needs to be added. 

Mr. Rognstad said staff feels GR is appropriate and the uses are what come with it.  Traffic would be more important than the uses and conditions have been put in place to reduce the impact of GR uses. 

Mr. Shermer said a changing message sign is proposed and he would like that to be a permanent sign because of the houses nearby.   Mr. Rognstad said that particular sign is permitted in any district.  There was a limitation placed on the sign by making it stationary for eight seconds because staff felt a scrolling sign was not appropriate.  Mr. Shermer said he feels that type of sign next to a residential district is not appropriate.  Mr. Rognstad said other lit signs are allowed. 

Mr. Stevens said they did hold a neighborhood meeting and these were not issues of the neighborhood.  He said it is impossible for them to come before Commission and guess what uses they would feel are not appropriate.  He asks what he needs to take off and what Commission feels is not appropriate.  Mr. Shermer said this is not the first time Commission has done this and they have omitted uses.  Mr. Stevens said that is when there were neighborhood objections.  Mr. Shermer said it was also Commission objections.  He said he leans on what staff feels is not appropriate next to single family residences. 

Mr. Wheeler said according to staff the application is acceptable.  He said when they have tabled there has been some input from neighbors to give the applicant.  He feels they are making it hard on Mr. Stevens. 

Mr. Shermer said the problem is that Commission does not know what they are going to put there and they never do.  Mr. Stevens said zoning is the first step to redevelopment and it is almost impossible to rezone a piece of property towards a specific use.  He is not at liberty to divulge the tenant the developer is involved in discussions with.  He can speak with the developer but he needs to know what is not appropriate.

Mr. Alden said he is shocked this was tabled.  He suggests that nothing be changed because all of the uses are appropriate and it is appropriate for the area. 

Mr. Shermer said he would be glad to meet with the neighbors and get their input on what they would not want there. 

Mr. Wheeler said there is no rule against it but he has been reluctant to attend the neighborhood meetings.  Mr. Shermer said how else would he know what influences would be negative. 

Mr. Alden said Mr. Shermer is the only one objecting to the uses so he should know what he is objecting to.  The neighbors are not at the meeting objecting.  Mr. Shermer said he would be glad to itemize a list for staff.

Mr. Wheeler asked if it is acceptable to give written recommendations to the applicant.  Ms. Yendes said it would be better to have them speak with staff and staff can communicate with the applicant.  If a Commissioner goes to a neighborhood meeting they need to make it clear that they are there as an individual and not speaking for the Commission.

Mr. Shermer said he wants to protect the neighborhood and certain Commission members do not always want to do that. 

Mr. Wheeler advised Mr. Stevens he does not have to hold another neighborhood meeting and he agrees with Mr. Alden that it can be brought back as-is. 

            USE PERMITS:

            4.         Use Permit 386                                                                                       Ronald Haik
(1322 West Grand)

Mr. MacPherson said the intended use for the property is a martial arts business.  The conditional use permit procedure is designed to provide Commission and Council with an opportunity for discretionary review of requests to establish or construct uses or structures which may be necessary or desirable in a zoning district, but which may also have the potential for a deleterious impact upon the health, safety and welfare of the public.  In granting a conditional use, Commission may recommend, and Council may impose such conditions, safeguards and restriction upon the premises benefited by the conditional use as may be necessary to comply with the standards set out in the Zoning Ordinance to avoid, or minimize, or mitigate any potentially adverse or injurious effect of such uses upon other property in the neighborhood.  Mr. MacPherson said schools and studios for art, dancing, drama, music, photography, interior decorating, or similar courses of study are permitted as well as a martial arts business.  The location of the structures, green space, parking and drives shall be in substantial conformance with Exhibit III of the staff report.  Any signage shall conform to the standards set forth in Section 5-1400 of the Zoning Ordinance.  All other standards of the Zoning Ordinance, and other applicable ordinances, shall be adhered to.  The general standards for use permits are listed in Exhibit II and staff has found the applicant’s responses to be acceptable.  This application meets the approval standards for a use permit and is in conformance with the Comprehensive Plan.  The regulations and standards on the attached Exhibit I shall govern and control the use and development of the land in Use Permit 386 in a manner consistent with Exhibit III, except as modified by Exhibit I, and except any changes made by the Commission.  Staff recommends approval.

Chris Dunham, 1322 West Grand, said he is available for questions from Commission.

No one spoke in opposition.  The public hearing was closed.

McClelland made the motion to approve Conditional Use Permit 386.  Edwards seconded the motion. Motion carried as follows: AYES: Wheeler, Alden, Shermer, McClelland, Edwards; NAYS: None; ABSTAIN: None; ABSENT: Hedrick, Sutton, Lawhon, Coltrin.

PLANNED DEVELOPMENTS:

            5.         Planned Development 271 Amended       Griswald Enterprises, LLC etal
                        (600 block West Weaver south side)

Mr. MacPherson said the applicant is proposing to amend the existing PD on approximately 38.9 acres to allow multiple changes to the district.  The proposed changes include the elimination of existing Area B.  The existing PD, approved in July 2004, divides the property into five different “levels” or intensity of use areas and provides for a step-down concept of land uses whereby the intensity of use and development decreases as the property is developed away from Campbell and Weaver and adjacent to low density, large lot residential development. This request retains the intent of the existing PD with modifications proposed to the uses and development requirements on the interior portion of the subject property. The following is a summary of the differences between the existing PD and this application. The existing PD identifies five use areas including Area A in the eastern portion of the development near the Campbell Avenue outer road which permits HC type uses, Area B on the interior of the development which permits a mix of limited business/office and loft apartments, Area C along Weaver and a portion of the west property line which permits multi-family uses and Areas D and E along the west property line which permit townhomes and duplexes. A bed and breakfast is also permitted at the north end of the development near Weaver Road in Area E. This application proposes to eliminate the existing Area B uses. The use area classifications would shift except for Area A which would remain the same. The proposed Area B would include the existing Areas B and C and would permit multi-family uses. Proposed Area C would become the existing Area D and E. The uses currently permitted in these areas are not proposed to change except that a Bed and Breakfast would no longer be a permitted use.  The existing PD requires that all buildings within the development have a maximum setback of fifteen feet from abutting streets’ right-of-way except for garage doors for residential development which shall be setback at least twenty feet from the right-of-way.  The intent of this requirement is to move the buildings up to the street with the parking placed to the side and rear to define the street edge, encourage pedestrian activity, provide a greater sense of safety and security and promote interaction among residents.  Meeting this requirement is sometimes difficult because of the shape of the lot and the number of buildings to be placed on the lot. This proposal would change the setback to a minimum setback of ten feet to provide the developer the option of placing the buildings up to the street or to set the buildings further back on the lot. If the buildings are set back on the lot with the parking up to the street, a decorative wall or fence at least thirty inches high must be placed along the street right-of-way in addition to the required perimeter landscaping. The existing PD requires a modern roundabout to be constructed as part of the street system within the development. One of the reasons for the roundabout was to move traffic through the development without the disruption of an intersection where traffic is required to stop. This proposed amendment eliminates the requirement for a roundabout and proposes an intersection at Main and Bryant with multi-way stop control.  The change from retail and office development to multi-family residential within Area B of the PD is conducive to the change from the roundabout to an intersection with multi-way stop control.  A pedestrian trail connection is to be provided by the developer from the internal street system to the Ward Branch Greenway Trail as part of the existing PD.  An illustrative connection was shown on the preliminary development plan and the actual connection was to be placed in accordance with the connection shown on the plan.  However, the location shown on the existing preliminary development plan will not work.  As part of this amendment, the applicant is proposing to remove the requirement that the trail connection be placed in conformance with what was shown on the preliminary development plan and construct the trail connection in a location that is more feasible.  The location of the trail connection is required to be approved by the Springfield-Greene County Parks Department and Ozark Greenways. The developer has already granted an easement through the subject property for the future Greenway Trail.  The existing PD requires the final development plans for Areas A through Area C to be submitted to Commission for review and recommendation to Council for final approval. Subdivision approval can serve as the final development plan for Areas D and E.  If this amendment is approved, the final development plans for Areas A and B will be required to be submitted to Commission for review and final approval.  Subdivision approval will serve as the final development plan for Area C. 

Mr. Gugel said the proposed changes would actually result in less traffic than what is expected for the existing PD. 

Mr. Wheeler asked if the change to the sidewalk and trail connection was to allow for a better connection and will it be adequate.  Mr. Gugel said yes.  Mr. MacPherson said the multi-family units are limited to 29 units per acre and total units for the development would be 303.  All other requirements of the existing PD, other than the changes listed above, will remain the same as part of this amendment including the height and design requirements for buildings, bufferyards, intensity of use, open space and signage. The existing requirement for a one-hundred foot wide area of no disturbance from the centerline of the Ward Branch Creek will also remain.  The proposed changes do not alter the overall intent of the PD and are not expected to have any adverse impacts on surrounding properties or infrastructure.  This application meets the intent of the existing Planned Development ordinance by retaining the step-down concept of land uses from commercial uses fronting on Campbell Avenue to multi-family and then to residential townhouse uses.  The changes proposed as part of this amendment are generally internal to the development and are not expected to have any adverse impact on the surrounding properties or infrastructure.  All other requirements of the existing PD other than the changes specifically listed in this staff report will remain the same as part of this amendment including the height and design requirements for buildings, bufferyards, intensity of use, open space, signage and area of no disturbance around the Ward Branch Creek.  Staff is recommending approval.

Mr. Alden asked about what would not come back to Commission.  Mr. MacPherson said the townhouse and duplex will not have to come back.  Mr. Alden said there is a section going from townhouse/duplex to multi-family.  Mr. MacPherson said that would come back as a plat. 

Kevin Lowe, 1525 E Republic Rd, indicated on the overhead the areas they are proposing for change and where the road connections are located.  There is a section of multi-family that should be listed as townhouses because there is not enough room to build multi-family.  He said they feel by taking out the commercial they are down zoning because there will be less traffic and will allow for more options for residents to go in and out of the development.  The proposal will also have to come back before Commission as a Final Development Plan prior to construction.

Mr. Wheeler asked about the roundabouts.  Mr. Lowe said they take up a lot of land and are expensive.  A multi-way stop seems to solve the same problems as a roundabout would. 

Mr. Alden asked for clarification regarding the townhouse section.  Mr. Lowe said they agree it should be a C, townhouses, because they cannot fit multi-family in that small section. 

Mr. Wheeler asked if he was acceptable to changing that section.  Mr. Lowe said if this is approved with that change, he will provide staff with a different exhibit to go to Council.  It would be changed from a B to a C. 

Charlie Dishinger, 702 West Farm Road 178, said he owns the property to the west of this development.  Since the beginning there has been opposition from the neighbors but it was still passed.  There have also been amendments that have changed a little each time and he said it is still a mess.  Weaver Road and Plainview is terrible and until those things are corrected they do not need any more traffic.  He said the daily count of traffic might be reduced but everyone will be leaving and coming home at the peak periods and that will be increased.   He said the Greenway Trail access will cross his property and Mr. Glover’s property and the County is now trying to force him to move his driveway next to that berm.  That means the trail access will now cross his driveway.  He said the last Council meeting Mayor Carlson said he was tired of the changes and they all voted against it.  He does not believe the changes will benefit anyone but the developer and it will do nothing for the neighborhood. He asks that this be voted down.

Mr. Shermer asked if there were plans to improve the Weaver/Campbell outer road.  Mr. Gugel said there are plans between the County, State and City for improvements to and relocation of Weaver.  Mr. Dishinger said they were told in 2000 that it would be done in two years and they do not have the right-of-way purchased at this time. 

Mr. Wheeler said it is disappointing that the road improvements have yet to be made. 

Aleta Dyer, 4926 South Wellington Drive, said she is standing in for Lisa Langley who is the President of the Wellington Hills Subdivision.  Ms. Langley advised her that they could not take any more apartments in the area.  When they talked to Mr. Lowe at the neighborhood meeting they were assured the change would be a down zoning from commercial to patio homes for senior living.  She thinks that would be a good change but they have now found out there are two cases under two names.  In that discussion she found out the request is for multi-family dwellings which can mean anything including a three-story apartment.  She thinks that is a lot more apartments.  When they bought their home they asked if a development was planned.  They were told the Ward’s had promised the Wellington Hills people that their land would never be developed and that there were no known plans for this property.  Had they known there would be apartments they would not have bought their home because of the problems that come with transient people.  Not long after the leasing began for the first phase neighborhood cars started getting broken into.  She said if there was something to buffer the tall apartments, like patio homes or senior living, she would be acceptable to that. 

Mr. Wheeler asked how many more housing units will be created by this change.  Mr. MacPherson said the total, for the entire development, would be 303 units.  There were already some units in the other section so he is unsure of the exact difference.  Mr. MacPherson said the total would be less than 300 units because of the change offered tonight.  Ms. Dyer said in original B, the section to the north, there are ten buildings with at least eight apartments.  She said there could be changes down the road that could increase the units even more.  

Mr. McClelland asked for clarification on where she lives.  Ms. Dyer indicated on the overhead.  Mr. McClelland asked about those in the apartments being able to look into her backyard.  Ms. Dyer said the apartments look to the northwest which allows that to happen.

Tom Tatmeyer, 901 West Farm Road 182, asked for the date on the last traffic count on Plainview.  He said the last time they went to Council, Mayor Carlson said that was the final zoning.  Then there was ten acres that was in the County that was moved into the City.  He feels they have been duped because they keep coming back with requests and they have to watch this property all of the time.  He said there are water detention problems and there is increased traffic on Plainview Road. 

Mr. Gugel said Plainview is in the county so he does not have traffic counts on it but there may be counts for the intersection of Plainview and Campbell.

Mr. Tatmeyer asked this request be tabled until there is a traffic count for Plainview.  Mr. Wheeler said Commission can consider tabling. 

With no further speakers, the public hearing was closed.

Mr. Alden said he agrees with staff and PD 271 is already in existence.  This is an internal change that will reduce traffic and he will not acknowledge the bias towards renters.  Traffic was his main concern and the deal was townhomes along the western boundary.  If a motion is made, including the townhomes, it is consistent with the original PD and he will be voting for it.  

Alden made the motion to approve Planned Development 271 Amended changing the piece of property on the northwest corner of Bryant and Main, south of Action Street, from Zone B to Zone C and changing it from multi-family to townhome residential.  Edwards seconded the motion. Motion carried as follows: AYES: Wheeler, Alden, Shermer, McClelland, Edwards; NAYS: None; ABSTAIN: None; ABSENT: Hedrick, Sutton, Lawhon, Coltrin.

            PRELIMINARY PLATS:

6.         Kum & Go #489                                              Tomar Properties, LLC
                        (4020 West Battlefield)

Mr. MacPherson said this request is to approve a preliminary plat to subdivide 4.145 acres into a two lot commercial subdivision with a third lot dedicated as common area for stormwater detention.  The plat provides for a cross access agreement to access the second lot and to the common area.  The conditions are standard and staff recommends approval.

Kevin Lambeth, 2045 West Woodland, said he is available for any questions.

No one spoke in opposition.  The public hearing was closed.

Shermer made the motion to approve Preliminary Plat Kum & Go #489.  Alden seconded the motion. Motion carried as follows: AYES: Wheeler, Alden, Shermer, McClelland, Edwards; NAYS: None; ABSTAIN: None; ABSENT: Hedrick, Sutton, Lawhon, Coltrin.

            7.         Roberts Industrial Park Renewal                    Javalina, LLC & Forerunner, LLC
                        (1000-1100 block North Westgate east side)

Mr. MacPherson said this is request to renew a preliminary plat creating a nine lot industrial subdivision.  The applicant’s proposal, with the conditions listed in the staff report, is consistent with the City’s Subdivision Regulations and staff recommends approval.

Eric Roberts, 1300 West Poplar, is present to answer any questions.

No one spoke in opposition.  The public hearing was closed.

McClelland made the motion to approve Preliminary Plat Roberts Industrial Park Renewal.  Edwards seconded the motion. Motion carried as follows: AYES: Wheeler, Alden, Shermer, McClelland, Edwards; NAYS: None; ABSTAIN: None; ABSENT: Hedrick, Sutton, Lawhon, Coltrin.

            8.         Walnut Creek Phase III                               Weaver Creek Investments, LLC
                        (5100 block South Main)

See previous discussion for Item 5, Planned Development 271 Amended.

Alden made the motion to approve Preliminary Plat Walnut Creek Phase III.  Shermer seconded the motion. Motion carried as follows: AYES: Wheeler, Alden, Shermer, McClelland, Edwards; NAYS: None; ABSTAIN: None; ABSENT: Hedrick, Sutton, Lawhon, Coltrin.

Mr. MacPherson said Ms. Carrier is present to address Item 10, Sign Code Revisions, and staff requests that item be moved up on the agenda and be heard next. 

OTHER BUSINESS:

            10.       Sign Code Revisions                                             City Staff

Mr. Rognstad said he wanted remind Commission of their charge in this matter.  Council’s Plans and Policies Committee asked Commission to review and comment on the Sign Code

Task Force report and address any issues with the recommendations in that report.  Staff has outlined a series of changes that should be addressed in pieces rather than revising the entire code.  Staff is asking for Commission’s concurrence with the proposed changes. 

Mr. Wheeler asked if this would be voted on tonight.  Mr. Rognstad said it can be.

Leslie Carrier said the task force met for 18 months and it has been that long since their last meeting.  She wanted to give Commission some historical and philosophical background on how they arrived at their decisions.  She said she went into the meetings thinking that she was going to advocate for the reducing of signage in Springfield.  At the end of 18 months she came out with a completely different outlook.  The task force’s charge was to reduce the signage in Springfield and they had to decide if that meant reducing the amount of square footage of signs or the actual number of signs. 

Mr. Alden clarified they were tasked with reducing the amount of signage.  Ms. Carrier said they were given the action statement from the Comprehensive Plan that states reduce the allowable sign area, height, number and visual clutter.  That became their mission statement.  Visual clutter became as important as the number of signs in the discussions.  They thought maybe the modernization of the aesthetics of the old signs was as effective as reducing the number of signs.  The current code does not give sign owners incentive to improve the look of their signs.  If they wish to improve their signs they may have to reduce the size of their sign if it is currently nonconforming in terms of size.  Another issue was the lack of staff to provide enforcement of the ordinance.  They wanted to make the sign code easier to enforce, more consistent for permitting, and give businesses incentive for improving their sign without penalizing them.  She said a small part of their discussion was off-premise billboard signs but most of those are on state routes and fall under state regulations.  The sign industry wanted easier permitting and the ability to reduce the amount of nonconforming signs.  They were willing to reduce the amount of signs if they could provide incentives to business owners to improve the old signs.  As much as number and size of the signs was visual blight/clutter, improving aesthetics was equally important.  They all wanted to drive down the street and not see old rusted poles, abandoned signs and outdated signs. 

Mr. Wheeler asked if they discussed a process where unusual changes could be considered and approved.  Ms. Carrier said they did.  They tried to word it so it would be open to address new technology.   

Mr. Rognstad said there was another task force who addressed only off-premise signs about five years ago.  The result changed the ordinance to increase the spacing and the way spacing was measured.  Because of that change almost every off-premise sign is nonconforming.  You can change the copy on the sign but you cannot change the structure.  They would like to be able to change the structure of the sign by putting in tri-vision or a digital sign and that would reduce the number of signs because they can advertise more than one business on a single sign.  Staff does have a concern about new technology.  Staff recommended not distinguishing between on and off premise signs because of the digital signs.  The task force did not go along with that recommendation.  Staff is more concerned about full motion signs and video because studies have shown that is a threat to safety. 

Mr. Shermer asked if they have noticed any signs less than eight seconds.  He has seen one at Glenstone and Grand that seemed to go one right after another.  Mr. Rognstad said if you went to the eight second rule it would not scroll but the signs are all over the place.  Ms. Carrier said there is a digital billboard north of Target that changes quickly.  Mr. Rognstad said there is no limitation from the City but if they are on a State highway the limit is eight seconds. 

Mr. Wheeler thanked Ms. Carrier for explaining what happened with the task force.

Mr. Wheeler asked if staff is requesting a vote tonight or to delay it for another two weeks.  Mr. Rognstad said the vote could wait until there are more Commissioners in attendance.  He said the recommendations within the task force’s report are to not allow the replacement of the sign structures.  The sign and billboard industry would like that to happen but staff is not proposing that in the first series of revision.  If Commission has that concern it needs to be expressed. 

Mr. Alden clarified what Commission is being asked to do.  Mr. Rognstad said Commission is to read and understand the report and then decide if staff should start working on the six proposed amendments stated in the memo.  He said if they feel staff should be working on other areas of the report rather than the six identified Commission can make that recommendation.

Mr. Edwards asked if Commission could recommend that staff address the modernization of signs and incentives to do so.  Mr. Rognstad said Commission can recommend that and they would need to state if it needed to be addressed immediately or if it could wait.  Mr. Edwards said he believes it should be addressed and then Mr. Furedy could come back with a timeframe. 

Mr. Wheeler said Commission would postpone the vote on this item until there are more Commissioners present. 

AMENDING COMMISSION RULES OF PROCEDURE:

            9.         Changing the Meeting Start time to 6:30 p.m.                             City Staff

Mr. MacPherson said Council has changed their meeting time to 6:30 p.m.  If they desire to do the same thing the Rules of Procedure Section 2.1 would need to be amended.  If approved tonight the start time would begin with the October 8 meeting. 

Mr. McClelland said he is agreeable but he feels they should wait until other Commissioner’s are present and receive their input. 

This item will be addressed at a later meeting when more Commissioners are present.

Edwards made the motion to table this item to Commission’s next meeting.  McClelland seconded the motion. Motion carried as follows: AYES: Wheeler, Alden, Shermer, McClelland, Edwards; NAYS: None; ABSTAIN: None; ABSENT: Hedrick, Sutton, Lawhon, Coltrin.

 

Any Other Matters Under Commission Jurisdiction:

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at approximately 9:15 p.m.


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