For Immediate Release
Council Meeting Draws 500 to City Hall
Nearly 500 people showed up for the Aug. 27 Springfield City Council meeting, where Council made decisions on three high-profile issues. First up was approving a motion by Councilman Tom Bieker to table a bill that would have added sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected categories in the City's nondiscrimination ordinance in the City Code. The categories were to be covered in the area of employment, public housing and accommodations.
The Mayor will seek input from City Council as to the specific charge to be given to a citizen-led task force to further address the issue, and also to the stakeholders that need to be included on the task force.
"Obviously, this is going to take some time and City Council is not going to rush this process. This is an important issue for our community and needs to be given due consideration," said Mayor Bob Stephens.
Following input from Council, the application process will be developed and the public will be notified through a news release, the City's website, and the social media channels the City consistently uses.
Council's action tabled both the original bill that was heard Aug. 13, and an emergency bill offered by Mayor Pro Tem Seifried that appeared on the Aug. 27 agenda, which proposed to send this issue to the voters on the November ballot. Thus, there was no public hearing on either of these two bills during the Aug. 27 City Council meeting.
Council Bill 2012-227 (Marijuana)
Council voted 6-3 to adopt an ordinance to lessen the penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana, brought forth by the initiative petition process, but stated clearly their plans to amend, or even "gut" or repeal the ordinance. Councilpersons Compton, Rushefsky and Bailes voted against the adoption.
Council Bill 2012-211 Rezoning for Hotel at Hwy. 65 and Evans Road
Council voted against a proposed rezoning (four to four with Councilman Scott Bailes recusing himself for conflict of interest) for an increased floor-area-ratio for a hotel planned near Hwy. 65 and Evans Road. Neighbors had expressed opposition to the proposed five-story hotel. Councilpersons Stephens, Fisk, Rushefsky and Rush voted against the measure.
Other Council Agenda Items
- City Utilities' Budget and public hearing on proposed water rate increases. (Will vote in two weeks)
- Public hearing on tax abatement for a Campus Housing Redevelopment Plan for an area located at the southeast corner of East Cherry Street and South Florence Avenue
(Will vote in two weeks)
- Public hearing and vote on College Street Corridor Plan (Resolution passed.)
- Public hearing and vote on Chronic Nuisance Properties Strategy
One speaker in opposition. (Unanimous vote to pass)
- A resolution granting the request to waive the fee for a Conditional Use Permit application to allow a community center generally located at 661 South New Avenue (Unanimous vote to pass)
- Public hearing and vote on annual bill setting city property tax levies
(Unanimous vote to pass)
- Vote on ordinance expanding areas where temporary vendors may operate. (Unanimous vote to pass)
- Vote on proposed tax incentives for Kraft Foods expansion
(Passes eight to one in favor. Burlison opposed.)
City Manager Report
City Manager Greg Burris thanked the dozens of City employees who participated in last week's United Way of Day of Caring. He also provided an update on what the City is doing to conserve water during the current Water Watch period. In addition to making significant water conservation efforts in all City departments, the City is assisting developers with measures, such as temporarily adjusting water and landscaping requirements, and offering contractors access to treated recycled water for irrigation.
Burris said he is proud to bring forward the Chronic Nuisance Strategy and College Street Corridor Plan. "Both are great examples of City staff listening to stakeholders and working WITH them to develop a proposal that most or all support," he said.
Burris concluded his City Manager Report with congratulations to nine officers from Springfield Police Department who were promoted Friday. The promotions are a part of the Springfield Police Department's reorganization efforts we developed over the last year and began to implement July 1.
For more information, contact Cora Scott, Director of Public Information and Civic Engagement at 417-864-1009 or 417-380-3352.