Vacation of Streets, Alleys, and Subdivisions
A "vacation" is the legal process whereby the City relinquishes the public's interest in a street, alley or subdivision. When a street is created, the owner of the land gives the public the right to drive on that street and when the street is vacated it becomes private property again. The vacation process is the only method available to eliminate a street, alley, or subdivision.
The following steps will guide you through the vacation process. Staff is available at any point during the vacation process to assist you or your representative with any questions or concerns you might have (see City Code, ARTICLE IV.
First Step: Initial Contact
You may contact the Zoning and Subdivision Services Division of the Planning and Development Department for general information. The staff can inform you of the deadlines and processing time involved; application requirements; processing fees required; any requirements that may be made, and can give you an initial impression regarding the feasibility of your request. A list of the application deadlines and processing times is available from Zoning and Subdivision Services.
You are encouraged to contact the Public Works Department and City Utilities at this stage to find out any requirements they may have.
Second Step: The Application
The application form for a vacation is called the Petition and Consent to Vacate form (see application online).
To complete the first page of the Petition and Consent to Vacate form, please circle whether this is a vacation of a street, alley, or subdivision; insert the legal description of the street, alley, or subdivision to be vacated or attach it on a separate sheet; list the reasons why the vacation should be approved, and list all the owners whose property touches the street or alley to be vacated. If this is a vacation of a subdivision, you must attach a list of all the property owners within the subdivision certified by an attorney or a title company. You may use the back of the form or attach additional pages if necessary. List a name, address, and phone number of one person to be contacted with all the information concerning the case and to receive the bill for the advertising.
The second page of the Petition and Consent to Vacate form must be signed by the owners of at least two-thirds of the footage bordering the street or alley to be vacated (all the property owners within a subdivision to be vacated must sign this page if this request is to vacate a subdivision). The owners should sign their names exactly as they appear on their property deed, print their names and addresses under their signatures, and list the legal description of the property they own. You may use the back of the form or attach additional pages, if necessary. A notary public must witness each signature and must notarize the form.
Bring the completed, signed Petition and Consent to Vacate form to the Zoning and Subdivision Services office along with the non-refundable application fee (see application fee schedule for details).
Third Step: Staff Review
During the processing of your application, Public Works, City Utilities, the Police Department, and the Fire Department will be contacted to determine if there are any public utilities located within the area to be vacated, if there are any other problems involved in the vacation, or if there is a reason why the street or alley should not be vacated. The contact person listed on the Petition and Consent to Vacate form will be contacted if the property owners must give the City any easements (for utilities, telephone lines, sanitary sewers, storm sewers, access, etc.) or if there are any problems with the vacation.
If any easements are required, the applicant(s) should get the easements completed and returned to Zoning and Subdivision Services before the Commission meeting. Otherwise, there will be a delay in the hearing and approval.
Zoning and Subdivision Services will notify all the property owners who have property adjacent to the property requested to be vacated (or all of the property owners within the subdivision requested to be vacated) of the public hearing before the Planning and Zoning Commission. The occupants of all property within 300 feet of the area to be vacated will also be notified.
Vacations must be advertised in the Springfield News-Leader at least thirty (30) days before the public hearing at the Planning and Zoning Commission. Thereupon, the Zoning and Subdivision Services shall cause notices of the proposed vacation to be posted in at least three (3) prominent places in the vicinity of the area to be vacated. The applicant will pay for the actual cost of the advertising. The cost of the advertising depends on the size of the legal description.
Zoning and Subdivision Services staff will prepare a staff report to the Planning and Zoning Commission that will contain the staff recommendation to the Commission. The contact person listed on the Petition and Consent to Vacate form will be notified of the meeting and will receive a copy of the staff report the week prior to the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.
Fourth Step: The Public Hearing
The Commission will hold a public hearing on the vacation and will hear all persons wishing to speak, either in favor of or in opposition to the vacation. You or your representative should attend the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. The Commission might not vote on your request to vacate if they have questions and you are not there to answer them.
Before a vacation can be approved, the Commission is required to find that each of the following requirements are met:
- All property owners adjacent to the area to be vacated or within the subdivision to be vacated have access to another street
- The owners of two-thirds of the property adjacent to the street or alley, or all the property owners within the subdivision to be vacated, have given their consent to the vacation
- That the retention of the street, alley, or subdivision serves no useful purpose
- That the vacation will not affect the ability to use utilities, public or private
In most cases the Commission will vote on the vacation on the same night as the public hearing. However, very complicated or controversial cases may be tabled for further study. Also, if any easements are required and the applicant has not submitted the completed easements by the meeting date, the vacation will be tabled by the Commission. The Planning and Zoning Commission can table items for 30 days. The applicant may request that the vacation be tabled for up to 180 days. At the end of that time, if the required easements have not been granted to the City, the vacation will be automatically denied.
If the planning and zoning commission finds that all conditions set forth above have been met, then the planning and zoning commission may adopt a resolution vacating the area. If the planning and zoning commission does not adopt a resolution vacating the area, the applicant may request that the city council hear the request for vacation, provided a request for review is filed within 15 days with the city clerk from the date the planning and zoning commission denies the request. If the planning and zoning commission approves the request to vacate, any person objecting thereto may petition the city council to review the request to vacate by filing an appeal within 15 days with the city clerk from the date the resolution was passed by the planning and zoning commission. If the objector shall not have consented, the city council may approve the vacation, as provided in this section, only upon a finding that the public interest requires such vacation despite the objections thereto. Any person aggrieved by a decision of the city council shall appeal to the county circuit court within 30 days after a decision is rendered by the city council in accordance with the procedures set forth in RSMo ch. 536.