Minutes for the Springfield Planning and Zoning Commission

Date:

January 7, 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: Jack Wheeler, Chair; King Coltrin; Shelby Lawhon; Jay McClelland; Matthew Edwards; Gloria Roling; Phil Young; Jim Hansen; Thomas Baird, IV; Mike MacPherson, Principal Planner, Planning and Development; Ralph Rognstad, Director, Planning and Development; Nancy Yendes, Assistant City Attorney; Martin Gugel, Public Works.


ELECTION OF OFFICERS
:

Mr.  Edwards made a motion to elect Mr. Wheeler as Chair of the commission. Mr. McClelland seconded the motion. Motion carried as follows: AYES: Young, Hansen, Baird, Roling, Coltrin, McClelland, Edwards, Lawhon; NAYS: None; ABSTAIN: Wheeler; ABSENT: None.

Mr. McClelland moved that Mr. Lawhon be elected Vice Chair of the commission. Mr. Hansen seconded the motion. Motion carried as follows: AYES: Wheeler, Young, Hansen, Baird, Roling, Coltrin, McClelland, Edwards. NAYS: None; ABSTAIN: Lawhon; ABSENT: None.

 

Approval of Minutes:


The minutes for December 3, 2009 were approved unanimously.

 

Communications:


  • Mr. MacPherson said he had prolvided members with a proposed amendment to the Jordan Valley Park Concept Plan.

    Mr. MacPherson said he is the "point of contact" for Commission members.

    Mr. MacPherson said that the applicant for case Vacation 742 had asked that discussion of the case be postponed to the February 4, 2010, meeting and that staff will recommend tabling the casse Z-02-2010. 

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 745                                                                Republic Road, LLC
  2. (2100 E. Republic Rd.)

    • Relinquish Easement 746                                                                EMW Investments
    • (3015 & 3025 W. Republic Rd.)

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

 

HEARINGS:  

ZONING:

3.         Z-01-2010                                                                            Drury University
           (800 Block N. Summit)

Mr. MacPherson said that Zoning Case Z-01-2010 is a request to rezone approximately fourteen acres of land generally located in the 800 block of Summit Ave. and the 600 block of Bob Barker Blvd. from a Heavy Manufacturing zoning district to a GI, Governmental and Institutional, zoning district.

Mr. MacPherson described the case by reading the following section of the staff report:

The request is consistent with the Growth Management and Land Use Plan, which identifies this area as Governmental and Institutional uses. The comprehensive plan states that: As Springfield has grown, so have its major institutions such as colleges, hospitals and government offices. This institutional growth benefits the community by providing jobs, tax base, visitor attractions, entertainment and cultural activities, and prestige. Continued institutional growth can be positive for the community, but it is also important that these institutions be compatible with their surroundings. Springfield has a good history of crafting plans and regulations that balance these sometimes competing interests, and the City should continue to pay attention to the needs of all stakeholders in this process. More specifically, the City should:

    • Continue to work closely with institutional partners to ensure that the scale and form of expansion will occur in a manner compatible with surrounding areas;
    • Encourage colleges, medical complexes, governmental building areas and other large property interests to concentrate their greatest density and height in the interior of their campuses;
    • Work with institutions to create building forms on the edges of institutional properties that are most reflective of neighboring properties;
    • Encourage institutions to make the amenities and green spaces of institutional properties visually and physically accessible to the public where practicable; and
    • Continue to work to build consistent and clear communications between institutions and affected neighborhoods.

Mr. Macpherson said that the hope was that, ultimately, the subject area would boast a parking facility, a green space linked to the City’s greenway system, and a facility for housing “the career center.” He said that the proposed GI, Governmental and Institutional zoning district would be consistent with the existing GI zoning to the north, west and east side of the subject property. He said that approval of the request would be consistent with the recommendations of the Comprehensive Plan, which identifies the subject property as Community and Public Land Uses. This land-use category includes schools, colleges, public buildings and cemeteries and should be implemented using the Governmental and Institutional zoning district. He said that staff recommends approval of the request.

Mr. Lawhon asked if the railroad tracks in the area were still being used. Mr. Macpherson said they were. Mr. Lawhon asked if there would be a conflict between the railroad use and the trail use. Mr. Macpherson said there would be some kind of device installed to ensure separation between railroad and pedestrian activities.

Ms. Roling asked about possible conflicts between this proposal and a “recycling location.” After some discussion, there was agreement that the facility being referred to was “on the south side of Chestnut” and would not be affected by the rezoning.

Mr. Wheeler opened the public hearing.

Peter Radecki said he was representing Drury University, 900 N. Benton. He said that there is indeed a Central Street recycling bin and that that facility would continue to be operated for the foreseeable future. He said that the Tindle Mills property was donated to Drury and that Drury has no need for the HM zoning that is on that property; GI zoning would be more appropriate for the land uses Drury envisions developing. 

Mr. Hansen asked where the parking facility would be and how tall it would be. Mr. Radecki said there currently was no plan for construction of a parking structure. He said the near-term plans were to do some demolition and “probably do some surface parking until such time as there’s an opportunity to do something more substantial.” There is no plan, he said, to make the entire subject area a parking lot.

There being no other speakers, Mr. Wheeler closed the public hearing.

Mr. Wheeler asked staff about future plans for the site. Mr. Macpherson said that the applicant could establish any of the land uses allowed in the GI district and that those uses had recently been expanded to include restaurants.

Mr. Wheeler said he thought that Drury had been a “tremendous partner” with the city and with the R-12 school district over the years.

Coltrin made a motion to approve zoning case Z-01-2010. Roling seconded the motion. Motion carried as follows: AYES: Wheeler, Coltrin, Young, Roling, Baird, Hansen, McClelland, Edwards, Lawhon; NAYS: None; ABSTAIN: None; ABSENT: None.

           

4.         Z-02-2010                                                                                       SFS Properties, LLC
            (245 & 300 block of S. National)

Mr. Wheeler mentioned that the City had proposed that this case be tabled due to the fact that no traffic impact study had been submitted with the application. However, said Mr. Wheeler, the case had been advertised and the time-frame of the tabling request was such that the Commission should allow a public hearing to be held today if persons currently in council chambers wanted to comment on the case. Mr. Wheeler asked the City’s spokesman, Mr. Macpherson, to proceed with the City’s description of the case.

Mr. Macpherson said that Zoning Case Z-02-2010 is a request to rezone several parcels totaling approximately two acres of land generally located at 245–247 S. National Ave. and in the 300 block of S. National Ave. from a High-Density Multi-Family District with a Walnut Street-West Urban Conservation District overlay (R-HD/UCD-W) zoning district to a CC, Center City, zoning district.

Mr. owever, said mr. Wheelrer,MacPherson said there are six separate property owners involved with the proposed rezoning request. The proposal would remove these properties from the Walnut Street Urban Conservation District and thus prevent them from being subject to the Walnut Street Design Guidelines, which are enforced by the Landmarks Board. The current uses allowed in the Walnut Street-West UCD are similar to the uses in the LB, Limited Business District.

Mr. MacPherson further described case Z-02-2010 by reading the following sections of the staff report:

The Memorandum of Agreement for the University Plaza Redevelopment Project (Attachment 7) was executed in 1981 between the City of Springfield, the State Historic Preservation Office, Historic Sites Board and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. Intended to mitigate the effect of the demolition and redevelopment project on the historic resources in the University Plaza area, one section of the Agreement directed the City to “undertake a preservation planning project leading to the designation of an East Walnut Street Historic District for the area of residences which are a part of the Walnut Street and Hampton Wedge residential areas outside of the redevelopment area (University Plaza). The designation will be sought at the City and National Register level.” (Mitigation Agreement Section V.) The Walnut Street Preservation Plan recommended designation of a National Register District and local controls protecting the historic resources for an area along both Walnut Street and National Avenue based on the preponderance of historically significant resources. From this preservation plan and historic surveys, the City rezoned two (2) sections of Walnut Street into Urban Conservation Districts (UCD). The Walnut Street-West UCD seeks to enhance the underlying residential zoning by allowing unique commercial and office uses that are typically not allowed in residential districts.  These non-residential uses must occur within the historic structures. New construction may only include residential uses. The purpose of this special zoning was to use the non-residential uses as an incentive for preserving the historic structures. The UCD also restricts demolition of structures without showing an economic hardship and requires any exterior work to be approved by the Landmarks Board. The Walnut Street-East UCD is made up of single-family homes and requires Landmarks Board approval for any exterior work.

Staff believes from prior conversations and inquiries that the applicant’s are asking to be rezoned specifically because they would like to avoid the Landmarks Board review and design requirements for the historic district (See Attachments 5 & 6). It is important to note that all property owners have purchased their properties after the Walnut Street Urban Conservation District was adopted by City Council in 1984.

The Growth Management and Land Use Plan of the City’s Comprehensive Plan designates this area as appropriate for greater downtown and medium- or high-density housing uses. Since these land uses may have differing impacts on adjacent low-density housing and on traffic generation, the site planning guidelines of this plan and regulations of the Zoning Ordinance must be observed during the site planning process. The Walnut Street Preservation Plan was conducted in the early 1980’s and provided staff with a specific area plan on the future development. This plan and further Council action implemented the preservation of the housing and the historic structures within the Walnut Street-West UCD boundaries.

The Center City District is intended to be a mixed-use district that accommodates a variety of residential, commercial, and light industrial uses. It is intended for older commercial and light industrial areas, particularly the Central Business District and Commercial Street area that tend to accommodate a wide variety of uses. These areas generally developed early in the city's history and do not display the characteristics typical of modern suburban development. These areas may also be experiencing or be in need of rehabilitation or redevelopment. This district is intended to accommodate the transition that must occur if these areas are to contribute to the vitality of the city. (Mr. MacPherson added that the Commercial St. area and the Boonville Ave. area and “the greater downtown area” have consistent boundaries and “they are all contiguous to one another.”) 

National Avenue is classified as a primary arterial. Public Works Traffic Division determined that the change in zoning will result in a significant increase in trip generation; therefore a traffic impact study is required. The Traffic Impact Statement should provide analysis of each site access to National Avenue, and the intersections of St. Louis Street, Walnut Street, Elm Street, and Cherry Street.

The Center City District does not have bulk plane, parking or building setback requirements. It has no maximum structure height and a maximum floor area ratio (FAR) of 10.0. There are no open space requirements and the maximum lot coverage is one-hundred (100) percent. It is one of the City’s most intense zoning districts.

The Center City District does not require off-street parking which may have a direct impact on the adjacent residential properties. The potential intensity of the redevelopment coupled with lack of or inadequate parking poses a threat to the health and integrity of the rest of the historic resources within the Walnut Street Urban Conservation District. Because Center City zoning permits 100% lot coverage by a building, it is conceivable that development could occur on this property at such a scale as to force customer parking into the surrounding neighborhoods.

The Center City District does not include design guidelines for new development. The lack of design guidelines, bulk plane and building setbacks, coupled with the possibility of 100% lot coverage, means that a large structure or structures could be built on this property that towers over adjacent neighborhood historic resources.

The Zoning Ordinance requires a Bufferyard “J” between the CC, Center City District and any adjacent residential districts. The Bufferyard “J” only requires a six (6) foot solid wood fence, masonry wall, solid evergreen hedge or earthen berm along the property boundary.

The Historic Preservation Element of the City’s Comprehensive Plan states that incompatible development in downtown Springfield can destroy the continuity of historic districts and nullify the historic character of existing structures. Expansion of uses adjacent to designated historic structures and sites can also result in a negative impact to the resource. Historic districts and many other older neighborhoods are threatened by the expansion or potential expansion of major institutions. The Walnut Street Historic District sits at the northern edge of the Missouri State University (MSU) campus and immediately east of the University Plaza project. The City Council has adopted plans for both the Walnut Street and Mid-Town areas. These plans indicate that institutions should not expand into the historic areas. The plans are policy statements intended to help the city in guiding growth and development. (At this point, Mr. MacPherson said that the Commercial Street Task Force has recommended that a special zoning district be created to protect the existing historical structures and to integrate them with any proposed new construction in the Commercial St. area.)

The properties along National are included in the Walnut Street Urban Conservation District because they are architecturally significant and contribute to the Walnut Street Historic District. The City of Springfield was compelled to establish a local and National Register historic district for the properties in the area surrounding the University Plaza project. This was as a result of accepting federal funds to help build University Plaza. A large number of historic properties were demolished for the UP project and the federal government required the City to enter into a Mitigation Agreement that included establishment of the historic district. That designation is completely separate from the actions taken when the City established the Jordan Valley Park Tax Increment Finance District. The TIF District was established in 2000 to provide financing for the City-owned Expo Center. State statutes establish the parameters for creating TIFs. One of those parameters is that a TIF District must either be a blighted area, a conservation area (could become blighted) or an economic development area (although this is in the State Statutes, there have been several challenges to this designation so it is not widely used). The City chose to designate the Jordan Valley Park TIF as a blighted area and one aspect of that designation was the preparation of a Blight Report. While this report has information about every property in the TIF, it is really designed to give an overall feel for the district and not to point fingers at a particular property.         

The Zoning Ordinance requires perimeter landscaping where a parking lot or vehicular use area is within fifty (50) feet of a public right-of-way and there is not an intervening building. Perimeter landscaping is a minimum open space of ten (10) feet wide between the abutting right-of-way and the off-street parking or vehicular use area with the following plantings per hundred linear feet: one (1) canopy tree, one (1) understory, ornamental, or evergreen tree and four (4) shrubs..

Building Development Services has stated that any use that is made non-conforming by a change in the zoning district must obtain a "Certificate of Occupancy” in accordance with section 5-1706 of the zoning ordinance. Some of the existing structures may be non-conforming to the new zoning district and may need to be evaluated for compliance with the Zoning Ordinance.

The City’s Exterior Lighting Standards restrict the permitted lumination to no more than one-half (0.5) footcandles at any point along the perimeter of a property where it adjoins a residential zoning district or is separated from a residential district by a right-of-way of seventy (70) fee or less; and one (1) footcandle at any other point along the perimeter of the property. It also states that there shall be no lighting of a blinking, flashing, rotating or fluttering nature, including changes in light intensity, brightness, or color except for public safety purposes. A site lighting plan for uses requiring site plan review is required to be submitted and approved by the City that meet these requirements.

The applicant has requested that if the Center City zoning district is not approved that a lesser district like LB, Limited Business be considered. The established ordinances and regulations do not allow an application to make multiple proposals. Staff has processed this request as a straight rezoning to the CC, Center City District and has not made any comments in response to the secondary request made by the applicant.

The Historic Preservation Element of the City’s Comprehensive Plan also states that the Walnut Street Urban Conservation District contains historic preservation provisions similar to the Landmarks zoning district because at the time the Walnut Street UCD was created, the city did not have a Landmarks zoning district.

The subject properties are all listed as contributing structures in the Walnut Street National Historic District. The National Register of Historic Places includes districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects that are significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, and culture. These resources contribute to an understanding of the historical and cultural foundations of the nation. The state's National Register program provides Missouri's citizens with national recognition of the value of Missouri’s history and historic properties, eligibility for tax incentives and other preservation assistance, and assistance in cultural resource planning. Listing in the National Register does not mean that limitations will be placed on the properties by the state or federal government. Public visitation rights are not required of owners. Neither the state nor federal government will attach restrictive covenants to the properties or seek to acquire them. In Missouri, neither state nor federal law limits the rights of owners of private property listed in the National Register to maintain, manage or dispose of their property as they choose provided that no federal monies, licenses, or permits are involved.

In addition to honorific recognition, listing in the National Register results in the following benefits for historic properties:

Consideration in planning for federal, federally licensed and federally assisted projects; Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 requires that federal agencies allow the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation an opportunity to comment on all projects affecting historic properties either listed in or determined eligible for listing in the National Register. The Advisory Council oversees and ensures the consideration of historic properties in the federal planning process.

Eligibility for certain tax provisions; Owners of properties listed in the National Register may be eligible for a 20 percent investment tax credit for the certified rehabilitation of income-producing certified historic structures such as commercial, industrial or rental residential buildings. This credit can be combined with a straight-line depreciation period of 27.5 years for residential property and 31.5 years for nonresidential property for the depreciable basis of the rehabilitated building reduced by the amount of the tax credit claimed. Federal tax deductions are also available for charitable contributions for conservation purposes of partial interests in historically important land areas or structures. Effective Jan. 1, 1998, Missouri taxpayers completing substantial rehabilitations of properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places (either individually listed or as contributing elements of districts) can qualify for a 25 percent state income tax credit. The Missouri state credit applies both to income-producing properties and owner-occupied residential properties.

Consideration of historic values in the decision to issue a surface mining permit where coal is located in accordance with the Surface Mining Control Act of 1977; and

Qualification for federal grants for historic preservation, when funds are available.

Mr. MacPherson discussed Exhibit 1, Attachment 3, page a; he read some of the permitted uses in the Walnut Street-West UCD district. He said that “these uses exceed what could be allowed in our Limited Business district,” and he said that some of the letters staff had received urged denial of the rezoning because land uses such as liquor stores and pawn shops would be permitted uses in the CC district proposed by the applicants.  

Mr. MacPherson said that staff is recommending tabling of the rezoning request until a traffic analysis of the proposal has been completed, because the change in zoning would likely result in significant increases in trip generation. He said that the Traffic division wants to see an analysis of how trip generation at the subject sites would impact the traffic flow at the surrounding streets and intersections.

Mr. Rognstad told the Commission that its ability to table a case was limited to thirty days unless the applicant agrees to a longer period.

Mr. Lawhon asked Mr. MacPherson if he knew of any precedents in which zoning cases allowed applicants to take their properties out of conservation areas. None of the City staff present could name such a precedent. 

In response to another question from Mr. Lawhon, Mr. Macpherson referred the Commission to a letter (Attachment 4, page m) that addressed the possibility of applying for a certificate of economic hardship in order to rehabilitate one’s property without having to comply with all the design guidelines imposed on property by the Landmarks Board.

Mr. Wheeler opened the public hearing.

Ben Goforth, 3405 N. Fenwick, Ozark, MO., said that he owned the parcel at 320 S. National. He said the subject properties had at one time been deemed historically significant. He quoted a passage that he felt defined what historical significance meant. 
The passage referred to the “location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling and association [that] adds to the district’s sense of time and place and historical development.” He asserted that the ambience on Walnut Street was entirely different from the ambience on National Street. He said he did not think that this proposed change would set a bad precedent because it was unlikely that the traffic on Walnut would eventually become like the traffic on National. He said of the subject properties that “yes, we’re older, like CC.” He said that, regarding the “high intensity uses,” the “traffic department” had recommended that, in effect, the subject properties could have no driveways on National. He said that would preclude a high-rise building. He said the manholes for stormwater were already beyond capacity, so the subject sites would need to provide on-site detention. He said the bottom line was that the subject sites could “absolutely not” develop any high-intensity uses because of all the restrictions on development that would kick in when redevelopment was proposed. He added that “we’re looking for uses in the buildings that we have.”

Mr. Coltrin asked about the tabling issue. Mr. Goforth said a traffic study had recently been done on a parcel in the vicinity of the subject parcels and there was no reason to think that a new study on the subject parcels would yield any different results.

Mr. Wheeler asked about the process involved in requiring traffic studies. Mr. Gugel said such studies were triggered when a rezoning would likely result in a significant increase in the number of trips generated by a site. He said the previous study referred to by Mr. Goforth would not be germane because it involved a different location and a different proposed zoning. Mr. Gugel then responded to Mr. Wheeler and said, yes, one study for all the subject lots would suffice, and he said that Traffic must look at the most intense possible use of a property regardless of what the applicant’s intentions for the property were.

Mr. Goforth said he thought that a traffic study which assumed that all the subject lots would be combined into one lot should not be required until an application was in fact submitted to combine all the subject lots into one lot.

Mr. Gugel said that Traffic was not assuming that all the properties would be combined. He said the requirement was to conduct one traffic study for “one rezone request.” He said if, later, an application for a lot combination were received, “if it didn’t [involve] a rezone request, we may not need another study.”

Mr. Goforth said the traffic-study policy seems unfair to him. Mr. Wheeler replied that the requirement was “part of our rules.” He said that he did not recall any parcel in the vicinity of the subject parcels being the subject of proposal for a rezoning to CC; therefore there were no other traffic studies done in this area that could be considered comparable to the one currently being discussed.

Mr. MacPherson said that the traffic impact study is required at the time of a rezoning application.

Mr. Young asked about “the timeframe for this traffic study.” Mr. Gugel said it would depend on how quickly the engineer hired to do the study could complete it. 

Mr. Hansen asked Mr. Goforth if there were some specific land use he wanted to develop that the current zoning was preventing him from developing. Mr. Goforth, said No, but he would like to have more variety in the uses available to him. Mr. Hansen asked about Mr. Goforth’s ability to “do something with” his property without combining and to “get an entrance farther away from the intersection.” Mr. Goforth said, “Myself, no; I’m locked in as tight as it can get.” He said he had no plans to “do anything”; he just wanted to leave his options open. He said the driveway his lot currently has would only go away “if I change things.” Mr. Hansen asked again about the tabling issue. Mr. Goforth said that he saw the traffic study as “a waste of time and money to go through it.”

Ron Conway, 1001 E. Walnut, said he owns the property at 310 S. National. He pointed out that, regarding the size of the subject parcels, they amounted to approximately one acre on the east side and one acre on the west side of National. He said that, based on the uses currently allowed in his district, the change to CC uses was not all that “big of a jump.” He said that City staff sometimes waives traffic impact studies, even when a big increase in intensity is being proposed. He said that, in his opinion, the houses facing National differ from those facing Walnut; the two sets of houses are not built “of the same character of construction and materials.” He said he could point out many houses in Springfield similar to his house at 310 S. National; the house, he said, is not historically significant even though it is old. He described his house and how he was told by the Landmarks Board that he could not change the “roof-shingle siding” to vinyl siding. He said the area in question is deteriorating physically because the owners cannot improve their properties in an economical way. He said the area, in its current state, does not serve as an attractive gateway to Jordan Valley Park. He said City staff had not given the applicants any alternatives as far as other zoning categories were concerned. He said his house has a design flaw in that one of the windows is so wide you can hardly lift it; yet the Landmarks Board would require him to replace it with “a $1,500 Marvin window that’s not going to work either because it’s so wide.” 

Mr. Wheeler said the Commission is required to give some thought to worst-case scenarios, such as ten-story buildings, when reviewing proposals for rezonings. Mr. Conway said his house at 1001 E. Walnut has a large office building near it. Also, he can see the lights of “the stadium” from his house. He thinks that’s just “the nature of living in downtown Springfield.”

Kirk Heyle, 309 S. National, gave some background information on properties he owns in the subject area (He said owns five of the lots and three of the buildings.). Then Mr. Heyle showed some photos of the subject properties. He said one of the houses “would not hold the paint.” He said he and the other applicants feel they have nothing in common with the property owners on Walnut Street, which is more “beautiful, quaint, and quiet.” He showed a photo of the parking lot of an apartment complex to the rear of Mr. Sweere’s (an applicant’s) property and stated that the lot was “as close or closer to the homes on east Walnut than Mr. Sweere’s office [is].” He said that most of the signs put up on National by the applicants are not visible from the houses on Walnut Street. He said he would like to put better siding on one of the houses he owns, but he has been compelled instead by the Landmarks Board to “keep painting it and watch it flake off.” He pointed out to the Commission that the Urban Districts Alliance had written a letter stating that it did not oppose the removal of the subject area from the “Walnut Street historic district” (Attachment 2, page h). He also cited a letter from “Mr. Hammond’s office” which said that “we probably should be considered a center-city type property.”

Mr. Edwards asked if Mr. Heyle and his co-applicants were trying to “find a way as landowners to improve your property in the face of some pretty daunting bureaucratic hurdles?” Mr. Heyle replied that, “That’s a very nice summary.” He added that if you look at the zoning of the larger area around the subject site you see “Center City and General Retail all over us.” He said some of the nearby businesses include Steak & Shake, Taco Bell, Panera Bread and Dillon’s supermarket.

Mr. McClelland asked, “What’s going to change by changing the zoning?” Mr. Heyle said that they would no longer be under the control of “Landmarks.” “So you’re not going to tear them down.” said Mr. McClelland. Mr. Heyle said that he personally “can’t” [tear his properties down]. 

Julie Conway, 5115 E. Clinton Court, said she owned the property at 308 S. National. She said she wanted to be able to make improvements to her property without having to meet the standards set by the Landmarks Board.

Linda Hunt, 1014 E. Sunshine, said that she was not aware of everything being in the historic district entailed when she bought her property at 245 S. National. She said that in 1998 she wanted to put vinyl siding on her house because the yellow pine siding “would not hold the paint.” She was told, when she enquired about getting a building permit, that she could not use “any material that was not available when the house was constructed.” She said that the existing wood siding “releases the paint” about every two years. She said she has called the City a few times about proposed improvements and has been told “you’ll need to have an architect draw up a plan and submit it to the Landmarks Board.” And when she has asked, “What chances do I have?—it’s never been a positive answer for me.” Based on her knowledge of the experiences that others have had with the Landmarks Board, she has been reluctant to go to that board with proposed improvements to her house. She said she has no desire to have her house torn down.

Mr. Wheeler asked Ms. Hunt if she knew about the availability of a certificate of economic hardship. She said that no, she did not know about it.

Mr. Coltrin asked if the “control” on her property extended to the interior of her house. Ms. Hunt said no, it was restricted to the exterior.

Scott Taylor, 307 S. National, said he thought that his building had “no historical significance at all.” He said that after he made some “cosmetic changes” to his site, he was forced “to remove all of that stuff because of lack of Landmarks approval.” He said his volume of business had decreased since he had removed the improvements in question. He said he had to compete with nearby businesses but that doing so was difficult because “everybody thinks I’m a house and not a restaurant.” He said he thought that “there are already plenty of problems with traffic and parking.” He said he did not think, “from a common-sense point of view,” that the things he and his co-applicants had in mind to change on their sites would have a major impact on traffic on National. He said he had no plans to change his building; he just wanted to have “a decent-sized sign up out front [and] be able to do some changes to the landscaping to make it look more like a restaurant and be able to compete with my neighbors just one block to the north and south.”

Bob Sweere came to the podium and distributed some documents. Mr. Wheeler said that the Commission needed to take a recess.

The Commission recessed at 8:20 p.m. The Commission meeting resumed at 8:30 p.m.

Mr. Wheeler described the tabling process. He said that if a proposal is tabled, and if the proposal is changed in the interim (while on the table), persons wanting to speak to the case later can only speak to the changes made to the proposal. He also mentioned that the Commission could not absorb and consider in its deliberations tonight material that had only been presented to it at this meeting. And he said that applicants in a rezoning case such as this “shall [submit] a traffic impact analysis,” and he did not see how the Commission could “legally pass this case tonight without a traffic impact analysis.” He urged Mr. Sweere to “think about tabling.”

Mr. Rognstad said that “the Commission can only table for a total of thirty days. So, once you get to the thirty days you cannot table it again.”

Bob Sweere said that “one of the legal legends in zoning is that you have to have a traffic study. That is not the law. The ordinance doesn’t say that anywhere.” He referred the Commission to a staff report covering “John Q’s zoning case for rezoning planned development Hammons Building, the white one ... from PD to center city development.” He said that on page 6 was language that “reads almost identical to the language of the staff report in our case.” He quoted some of it and then noted that it also said: “However, since the site configuration makes the probability of redevelopment unlikely, the traffic impact study requirement is waived.” He said that this showed that if you’re an ordinary citizen wanting to get CC zoning, you need to hire an engineer; but if you’re John Q, “you just go down there and send your architect and it’s a done deal.” He said that the applicants simply wanted to obtain a zoning that would allow them to “economically and efficiently repair and improve and maintain” the exteriors of their buildings. He said there was “no plot to change the character of National Avenue.” He referred commissioners to a page in the staff report that described the process for obtaining a certificate of economic hardship but then he dropped that topic and described how he had asked the Planning department about the possibility of putting a portico on the back of his house. He said he got a letter back, saying, in effect: “No; you need to go to the Landmarks Board.” He said his windows are rotting out. At this point, Mr. Wheeler cautioned Mr. Sweere against going off on a tangent. And he said there was nothing the Commission could do about problems citizens are having with the Landmarks Board. He suggested that aggrieved persons contact the city attorney’s office or a City Council member. He asked Ms. Yendes to comment on the issue of the traffic impact study.  

Ms. Yendes said that the zoning ordinance’s Section 3-3703.A.7 says that a traffic impact analysis “prepared to standards as established by the director of Public Works” is required as part of rezoning requests. She added that she thought that if we were going to bring in the Hammons rezoning case, “we should also read the part of subsection 2, which says ‘center city zoning is intended for areas with on-street parking’— which is not this area.” 

Mr. Wheeler said the legality of the traffic study requirement might better be dealt with by  involving the city attorney’s office and the issue of the Landmarks Board might better be dealt with by involving the City Council.

Mr. Edwards asked staff if the city had ever suspended the requirement for a traffic impact study, and “do we have the power to suspend that?”

Ms. Yendes basically said that whether the study was required was somewhat at the discretion of the Public Works department. Mr. Rognstad said that normally the city does require the study and does look at “the maximum intensity that is permitted,” but that “in certain cases [the study] is waived.”   

Mr. Edwards asked again if the Commission had the power to “suspend that requirement.”

Mr. Rognstad said that “I guess you could say you don’t feel like it’s relevant; I think staff would continue to recommend denial until we did see it.”

Mr. Sweere said of the applicants that “we’re a de facto LB zoning” and he questioned whether a change from LB zoning to CC zoning should require a traffic study. He said he thought Mr. Rognstad’s remarks showed that “the Traffic division can overrule the Planning and Zoning Commission.” He said, “I don’t have a right to any hearing in front of the Traffic division to have them reconsider their number that says I have to have a traffic study. What’s the fairness of this procedure? How is it even constitutional for them to say that a bureaucrat over in City Hall can say that I can’t apply to you for a rezoning?”

Mr. Wheeler suggested that Mr. Sweere could go to the City Council.

Mr. Sweere said he believed that the Commission could help the applicants if it wanted to.
He said he would sum up by asking the Commission to consider the criteria that must be met to establish that you are deserving of a certificate economic hardship. Mr. Wheeler said, “How about we look at it instead of you reading it; we have a copy too.”

Mr. Sweere said “they can require you to provide two years of income information on your property. They can require you to tell them how much you paid for the property. They can require you to tell you [sic] when you bought it and who you bought it from and what your debt is.”

Mr. Wheeler said, “Mr. Sweere, you’re going into an area I’ve asked us to skip. I thank you, Mr. Sweere; your time has expired,” and he invited the next speaker to come forward.

Lisa Frederick, 1244 E. Walnut, noted that she is a member of the Landmarks Board and that the Landmarks Board had submitted a memo regarding the subject case. She said she thought the proposed rezoning would amount to spot zoning, because there are no tracts directly adjacent to the subjects tracts that are zoned CC. She said she thought the applicants’ “frustration toward the Landmarks Board is aimed improperly.” Mr. Wheeler said he thought the applicants were probably frustrated with “the Walnut Street historic district and their requirements” in general, and he asked if there were other members of the Landmarks Board present tonight. No one responded. Mr. Wheeler asked Ms. Frederick if she knew of any way a property owner could, without pursuing a rezoning, simply “leave” the historic district. Ms. Frederick said she didn’t know. Mr. Rognstad said that if the Urban Conservation overlay were removed from the area, the zoning would revert to R-HD and the only allowed uses would be residential. Ms. Frederick pointed out that other property owners in the district had spent money to maintain their properties and had abided by the regulations and that “we all do better when we all do better.” 

Mr. Baird asked staff about the zoning of other properties in the area and he asked if any other properties had been allowed to remove themselves from an overlay district. Mr. Rognstad said that some properties on Elm St., which were in a national historic district, were ultimately “taken out” of that district but not out of the UCD. In response to a question from Mr. Baird, he displayed a map of the district.  

Mr. Coltrin asked how the boundaries of the UCD were initially decided on. Mr. Rognstad said the district was created in the 1980s. Mr. Coltrin said that he thought that “part of the trade-off” when “the [University Plaza] hotel went in” was that “we try and preserve part of the houses along Walnut Street.” He said he wondered why the district “got turned” and went up National and McDaniel instead of just running along Walnut Street. Mr. Rognstad said “it was the character of the development—the houses that were similar to what had developed along Walnut.” Mr. Coltrin said “there are similar houses that are all throughout the center of Springfield that didn’t get included into this section.” Ms. Frederick said that Mary Lilly Smith might be able to clarify this point, but that “it has to do with view-sheds and transition into the historic district and out of the historic district, is my understanding.” 

Mr. Coltrin asked staff whether, if the subject lots had been proposed for rezoning one at a time, they would have been required to do “a traffic study.” Mr. Gugel said no, they would not have been—“based off of the acreages and the rates.” 

Dave Croessmann, 1235 E. Walnut, said “we have an urban conservation district that provides for preservation, it provides for lack of demolition without approval, it in fact allows more uses than what would otherwise be there without this overlay.” He said “this Center City zoning, it looks wide open to me.” He said he does not want to see the subject area “being another Glenstone Avenue.” He said he did not think that the answer to the applicants’ frustration was to change the zoning of their properties. Mr. Lawhon asked Mr. Croessmann what the applicants should do. Mr. Croessmann said they should continue to work with the Landmarks Board. He said he was against taking away “the preservation aspect” by allowing them to get out of the historic district.

Adrienne Crow, 1344 E. Walnut, said she thought that only by keeping the current zoning intact could the city be guaranteed that the subject properties would not end up as strip malls or office towers. She said she thought that General Retail would be a more appropriate zoning category. Mr. Wheeler said the Commission tries to avoid “negotiating at Commission.” He said a case needs to be asking for “one specific thing,” rather than this zoning or that zoning.

There were no other speakers, and Ms. Yendes suggested that the public hearing be kept open while the Commission decided whether or not to vote tonight. Mr. Wheeler agreed, and kept the public hearing open.

Mr. McClelland said he was prepared to vote No. Mr. Young said the applicants should have known what they were getting into. Mr. Coltrin said he was puzzled as to why sections of National Avenue were included in the historic overlay. Mr. Young said that if the district extended to the south, “it might help the matter.” Mr. Edwards said it might be a case of an economic hardship to require the applicants to finance a traffic study and he said he thought the applicants had “an excellent, excellent grievance with the city and with the development process.” He said he would support their request. Mr. Lawhon said that “it stretches credulity for me to come to the conclusion that these properties on National are the same as what’s on Walnut Street and therefore have to be preserved in that sort of way.” He said the results of a traffic impact study would not dictate his decision on this case. He said changing the zoning to Center City might “open up too much latitude” for the applicants in terms of the land uses that could end up on the subject sites. Mr. Coltrin said that “zonings that were appropriate at one time become non-appropriate at another time.” He said that he would support the applicants’ request. Mr. Baird asked staff, “What is the threshold that has been met that is requiring that a traffic study be done?” Mr. Gugel gave a brief description of the process. He said that, in this case, a 2-acre tract with a zoning switch from R-HD to CC would experience a potential increase in daily trips of 2,720 trips, while such a tract with a switch from LB to CC would see a potential increase of 2,260 trips. The threshold that triggers a traffic impact study is 1,000 trips. He said it didn’t matter that the parcels were on opposite sides of the street.

Mr. Rognstad said it was not so much the uses in the CC district that were bothersome, it was the large increase in the “intensity” of development allowed. He cited in particular the lack of any requirement for yard setbacks, which would make it theoretically possible for a building to cover an entire lot.

Mr. Edwards said that “these are essentially land-locked properties” and “that’s an important point that we shouldn’t forget.”

Mr. Hansen said he would have to vote against the proposal “because the change to Center City, I think, is too jarring a change from what it is.” Mr. Baird asked if the Commission had the power to remove the zoning overlay. Mr. Rognstad replied that if the Commission felt that the existing zoning was not appropriate and that the proposed zoning was also not appropriate, the Commission could recommend denial but also recommend to City Council that the overlay be removed. He said that the applicant could table the current proposal and then come back with a proposal for a less intensive zoning such as General Retail, without having to start out with a brand new application. 

Mr. Edwards asked if it would be possible for the applicants to table the current proposal and apply later for removal “from those overlay conditions.” Mr. Rognstad said it would be possible to change the district. Mr. Edwards said he thought such an arrangement might be a “happy medium.” Mr. Rognstad said staff was willing to discuss with the applicants any of the options that came up tonight. Mr. Edwards asked the applicants if they would like to have their request tabled.  

Ms. Yendes said that if the applicants’ properties were to come out of the UCD, “there will be a whole lot of nonconforming uses” because the underlying zoning is residential. She said there would be “a lot of discussion that could take place.” Mr. Rognstad remarked that in the GR district you could have residential on “upper floors, so you can have a mixed use, and maybe that would be appropriate.” Mr. Gugel said it might be possible for an arrangement to be worked out with the applicants whereby their property could be rezoned and their existing driveways could continue to exist if the land uses did not change.

Mr. Wheeler asked Ms. Yendes about the applicants’ options if the Commission voted against the rezoning request. Ms. Yendes said the applicants could take the case forward to Council, but if Council voted No the applicants could not bring forward another rezoning request on the same property for six months.

Mr. Wheeler explained the tabling process.  

Mr. Sweere said his group would be amenable to seeing the creation of an Urban Conservation District North having the business uses “of the west” and the demolition rules of the whole district but not having the maintenance and exterior-change rules. 

Mr. Conway said he would like to table the proposal. Mr. Heyle said he would also like to see the case tabled.

Mr. Croessmann said he was still against a major development in the subject area.

Ms. Frederick said she wanted to caution that any negotiations should still allow the public to provide input on the proposal. She said it would inject a slippery slope situation if suddenly “the rules do not apply.” But she said she would be willing to compromise if there were public input.

Mr. Rognstad said it would be good for the developer to work with staff. Staff could then report to the Landmarks Board. But a public hearing at the Commission meeting was the best place for public input to occur.

Mr. Wheeler enquired about how long the rezoning request should be tabled. Mr. Rognstad said staff could probably get the case back to the Commission for the February 4 meeting.

Mr. Goforth said the applicants do not want to create a huge development.

Mr. Wheeler said that the public hearing was still open.

Mr. Edwards moved that the public hearing be continued to the February 4, 2010 Commission meeting. Mr. McClelland seconded the motion. Motion carried as follows: AYES: Wheeler, Coltrin, Young, Roling, Baird, Hansen, McClelland, Edwards, Lawhon; NAYS: None; ABSTAIN: None; ABSENT: None.

 5.         Z-04-2010                            Griswald Enterprises, LLC etal
                (1310 E. St. Louis)

Mr. Macpherson said that Zoning Case Z-04-2010 is a request to rezone approximately one acre of land located at 1310 St. Louis Street from the CS, Commercial Services, district to the GR, General Retail, district.       

Mr. MacPherson said that the rezoning request is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan and with the uses recommended therein for corridors such as St. Louis Street. He said the request is also consistent with the land uses listed in the Zoning Ordinance for the GR, General Retail, zoning district. He said that staff recommends approval of the request.

Mr. Wheeler opened the public hearing.

Ben Yore, 2263 E. Springhill Dr., said that he would answer any questions that Commission members might have. There being no questions and no other speakers, Mr. Wheeler closed the public hearing.

Edwards made a motion to approve Zoning Case Z-04-2010. McClelland seconded the motion. Motion carried as follows: AYES: Wheeler, Coltrin, Young, Roling, Baird, Hansen, McClelland, Edwards, Lawhon; NAYS: None; ABSTAIN: None; ABSENT: None.

 6.        Z-05-2010/COD #31                                              Tomar Properties, LLC
               (2557 E. Cherry)

Mr. MacPherson said that the applicant is proposing to rezone approximately 0.53 acres of land from Planned Development District No. 177 to an O-1, Office District and COD District No. 31. Approval of this request will permit the entire building to be used for a professional office rather than only 30% of the floor area as specified by the existing Planned Development.

Mr. Macpherson also said that the Conditional Overlay District will require the existing driveway on the east side of the property to be closed and will establish a minimum distance for a driveway from Cherry Street when Oak Grove is extended north of Cherry. In addition, the Conditional Overlay District requires additional right-of-way to be dedicated for Cherry Street to bring it up to standard for a secondary arterial roadway. He elaborated on these restrictions as follows: (1) Additional right-of-way shall be dedicated for Cherry Street, to a total of thirty-five (35) feet from the centerline. (2) Once Oak Grove Avenue is extended north of Cherry Street, this property’s eastern-most driveway to Cherry Street, closest to Oak Grove Avenue, shall be immediately closed and the greenway restored. The remaining driveway to Cherry Street will be allowed to remain, but shall be brought up to current Public Works standards. Also, a driveway meeting current Public Works standards will be allowed to the Oak Grove Avenue extension, but shall be no closer than 150 feet from the north right-of-way line of Cherry Street. Driveway permits will be required for all three of the following actions: closing of the one existing drive, reconstruction of the other existing drive, and construction of a new drive. Permits can be obtained from Traffic Engineering prior to the work being done.
 
Summing up, Mr. Macpherson said that the requested O-1, Office District, zoning is comparable to the existing Planned Development covering the property and will provide for infill of the existing building, and the location of the subject property is appropriate for the kinds of low-intensity office uses being proposed.

In response to a question from Mr. Hansen, Mr. Macpherson said that Yes, the requirements for signage, setbacks, and parking would remain the same as a result of the proposed rezoning; he also said that it was possible that Oak Grove Avenue could be extended north from Cherry Street in the future.

The Chair and Ms. Yendes discussed the issue of whether Mr. Hansen should recuse himself, since he did not receive all of the staff report. It was decided that recusal was not necessary.

Mr. Wheeler opened the public hearing. Derrick Lee, 2101 W. Chesterfield Blvd., said he represented the applicant. He said that the current PD restricts the land-use Office to 30 percent of the subject building’s area, and the applicant wants to use the entire building for an office. He then asked staff about a memo concerning the driveways. Staff provided Mr. Lee with a copy of the latest version of the staff report. Mr. Lee read the copy given him and said he had no problem with the language in the staff report.

Mr. Wheeler said he was in favor of the rezoning.

Lawhon moved that Zoning Case Z-05-1010/COD 31 be approved. Edwards seconded the motion. Motion carried as follows: AYES: Wheeler, Coltrin, Young, Roling, Baird, Hansen, McClelland, Edwards, Lawhon; NAYS: None; ABSTAIN: None; ABSENT: None.
 
Mr. Lee thanked the Commission members for the time and effort they put into their volunteer work on the commission.

(Staff comment: The public hearing was not closed.)


ZONING TEXT AMENDMENT:

7.         Community Gardens & Parks Bufferyard Requirements                    City of Springfield
              (City-Wide)

Mr. MacPherson gave the Commission some background information on this issue. He said that, under the proposal, applicants must conform to a set of performance standards. He said staff inadvertently forgot to remove certain bufferyard requirements from the ordinance establishing the community gardens, and the proposed language change would remedy that. Another problem to be rectified is that currently some park properties are required to have bufferyards, which was not staff’s original intent. Other proposed changes are spelled out in the staff report for this case, and the entire proposed amendment is described in the staff report’s Attachment A.  

Mr. Wheeler commented on some of the committee work that went into creating the ordinance under discussion. He then opened the public hearing.

There being no speakers to this issue, Mr. Wheeler closed the public hearing.

Mr. McClelland moved that the text amendment titled Community Gardens & Parks Bufferyard Requirements be approved. Mr. Coltrin seconded the motion. Motion carried as follows: AYES: Wheeler, Coltrin, Young, Roling, Baird, Hansen, McClelland, Edwards, Lawhon; NAYS: None; ABSTAIN: None; ABSENT: None.

8.         Front Yard Setbacks                               City of Springfield
              (City-Wide)

Mr. MacPherson said that the purpose of this proposed amendment was to reduce front yard setbacks in the commercial and industrial zoning districts. He gave the Commission some background information on the proposed amendment. Some of that information is repeated below.

The amendment would apply to streets classified as local streets. The amendment would allow buildings to sit closer to the street and sidewalk, but it would not require that buildings be placed closer. According to the staff report, the current 25-foot minimum setback does not, in some cases, make “placing a building at the front [of a lot] financially feasible or allow an owner to maximize the development of a property.” The amendment would affect the following zoning districts: Office, Limited Business, General Retail, Highway Commercial, Restricted Industrial, Light Industrial, General Manufacturing, Heavy Manufacturing, and Industrial Commercial.

Mr. MacPherson said that the amendment would make it easier for a builder to put a parking lot behind a building rather than in front of it.

Mr. Young asked about the amendment’s effect on the front yard in relation to the right-of-way line. Mr. Rognstad said it did not require that a building be placed at the right-of-way line. He said, “It’s not a build-to line.” He said the proposal would allow a builder not to set his building well back from the street in an area where there are already buildings sitting quite close to the street. He said the amendment would help “with some problems we’ve had in the past.”

Mr. Hansen asked about the difference between local and collector streets. Mr. Gugel said that there were various technical criteria that determine the difference, but basically local streets do not carry as much traffic as do other streets; they mainly carry local traffic.   

Mr. Wheeler opened the public hearing. No one wanted to speak to this issue. So Mr. Wheeler closed the public hearing.

Mr. Lawhon made a motion to approve the zoning ordinance text amendment titled Front Yard. Mr. Young seconded the motion. Motion carried as follows: AYES: Wheeler, Coltrin, Young, Roling, Baird, Hansen, McClelland, Edwards, Lawhon; NAYS: None; ABSTAIN: None; ABSENT: None 

VACATION:

9.       Vacation 742                                            Drury University
         (Sections of Summit Ave. and Bob Barker Blvd.)

After conferring with staff, Mr. Wheeler announced that Vacation 742 had been tabled to the February 4, 2010, Commission meeting.

OTHER BUSINESS:

10.       Training for New Members                                            

Mr. MacPherson described some of the topics that would be covered during the upcoming training session scheduled for January 21, 2010.

Any Other Matters Under Commission Jurisdiction:

There being no questions from the Commission members and no other business, the Commission meeting was adjourned at approximately 10:37 p.m.


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