Minutes for the Springfield Planning and Zoning Commission

Date: August 20, 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, Peggy Hedrick, Ray Shermer, King Coltrin, Shelby Lawhon, Jay McClelland, Matthew Edwards,  Mike MacPherson, Principal Planner, Planning and Development, Ralph Rognstad, Director of Planning and Development, Nancy Yendes, Assistant City Attorney; ABSENT: Michael Sutton.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:          

The minutes for July 23, 2009 were approved unanimously.

COMMUNICATIONS:

Mr. MacPherson said Council has decided to begin their meetings at 6:30 and staff is proposing Commission change their meeting to the same time for continuity.  This change would not be able to take place until September 17, 2009.  Staff will place the proposed change to their Rules of Procedure on the September 3 meeting.

Mr. MacPherson said staff has provided Commission with memos about the Sign Code Task Force revisions.  Staff is suggesting those items be taken up in steps making text amendments in areas that are causing the most problems.  Staff will be focusing on  the following items:

A.  Allowing signs in easements and clarify who may object to a sign when the placement is not in a City easement.
B.  Not require an on-premise sign either identify the entire premise or name all tenants on a multi-tenant premise who wish to be named.  The result may be an overly large sign so all tenants can be named and often individual tenant names would be so small they would be illegible from the street.  The task force is recommending this provision be eliminated. 
C.  Define various terms that would help improve administration of the requirements. 
D.  Adopt restrictions on temporary signs.
E.  Strengthen standards for exempt signs.
F.  Adopt standards limiting abandoned signs.

Staff is proposing these items be on the September 7, 2009 meeting and will ask Commission to recommend they go to the Plans and Policies Committee for implementation. 

Mr. Wheeler asked staff to have a neutral representative of the Sign Task Force speak at the upcoming hearing.    

HEARINGS: 

OLD BUSINESS:

1. Z-11-2009/Conditional Overlay District #29     Campus Rentals, LLC
(1900 blk. South Campbell east side)

Mr. MacPherson said the applicant is proposing to rezone approximately 7.35 acres of land and include an overlay district that would restrict uses, restrict access to Washita Street and South Avenue, require a secondary access to the site, require additional buffering, require a lot combination of all properties within the proposed rezoning and require all stormwater runoff to be directed into the existing north-south drainage system traversing the property or a new drainage facility.  Exhibit C of the staff report, Use Limitations, states no building permits shall be issued for development within this district until the property is combined with all properties within the proposed rezoning following the City’s Subdivision Regulations.  A secondary access to the site is required and shall be located either south to Cherokee Street or north via cross-access easement to Sunshine Street.  All of the site stormwater runoff shall be directed into the existing north-south drainage system traversing the property or a new drainage facility as part of the redevelopment.  Stormwater discharge (either above or below grade) to South or Washita shall not be permitted.  Any development of the property shall satisfy the City’s applicable stormwater design requirements at the time of the development.  No vehicular ingress or egress from Washita or South shall be permitted without the approval of Commission and the Director of Public Works.  The bufferyard requirements along South shall utilize fencing and/or solid screenings within five feet of the interior portion of the bufferyard area and required plantings in the bufferyard area adjacent to South.  The bufferyard requirements along South shall be bufferyard F.  Mr. MacPherson said at the property lines there will be a fifteen foot bufferyard F and the standard for transition between the two zoning districts is a bufferyard S2.  The applicant is proposing an upgraded and more intense planting and it will cover the first fifteen feet of the bufferyard.  At the fifteen foot line a six foot fence will be developed to run the length of the bufferyard and then behind the fence will be an additional five feet of plantings.  As a result of discussions between the applicant and the neighborhood they are now proposing the following uses be prohibited within this district:  ambulance services; cemeteries; bus stations; fairgrounds; household resource and recovery collection centers; taxi dispatch yards and office; and transitional service shelters.  The neighborhood had requested the elimination of campground and/or RV parks and manufactured housing and trailer sales, leasing and service but those have not been offered by the applicant.  Go cart tracks were also requested but was not offered because of the need for a Conditional Use Permit to allow that use. 

Mr. Wheeler said at the last meeting the applicant seemed to be comfortable with restricting access to Washita or South Avenue but the staff report states there will be no access without the approval of Commission and the Director of Public Works.  Mr. MacPherson said the City desires connectivity and not being able to predict what will happen with the property to the east staff does not want to say never to the access.  At some point a connection may be desired and if that were to occur it would be required to go before Commission and Public Works for review.  Mr. Wheeler asked if that were to happen would there be a public hearing.  Mr. MacPherson said yes. 

Richard Walters, 901 St. Louis, said at the last hearing they listened to a lot of needs and concerns from both Commission and the neighbors.  Additional restrictions were added to the overlay district and they defined the location of the screening after hearing concerns over the fence location.  They also extended the bufferyard F consistently along South Avenue to try to address additional screening requests and also agreed to several restrictions being placed on the uses.  They agreed to seven of the nine requests but two were not added based on interpretation issues.  The neighbors seemed to be satisfied with their explanations. 

Mr. McClelland asked if he was satisfied with the writing that the developer would be responsible for the issue of stormwater and sanitary services drain.  Mr. Walters said they were.  Mr. McClelland said he does not see where the 30 degree bulk plane was addressed.  Mr. Walters said they do not feel it is appropriate with the zoning.  When the building is designed, the bulk plane will have to be addressed.  They do not have specific drawings, heights or designs but they are aware of it and the impact the residential homes will have on the height of any building.  Mr. McClelland clarified that when the design is fulfilled it will be within the 30 degree bulk plane.  Mr. Waters said yes; they have to build it to the ordinances.

Edward Clutter, 1936 South Avenue, said he was concerned about the loss of property values which he estimates at 30-40%.  He believes they are requesting this rezoning because of the potential loss of a tax write off. 

Mr. Lawhon asked if he had any other objections other than the loss of property values.  Mr. Clutter said he has other thoughts but those have been presented by others.  He believes they have to do something quickly because they are losing a tax write off.  He thinks that if they lose their property values they will be bought out and then lose 30-40% of their values and then be rented rather than torn down. 

Tiffany Barnett, 1918 South Avenue, said the view of a hotel is not appealing to a residential property.  She is concerned about construction, noise, pollution, debris and loss of privacy.  She believes her daughter will no longer be able to play in the front yard or ride her bike in the street and they will be watched all of the time.  She said the staff report refers to the Subdivision Regulations and asked what those were and what it meant to combine property.  Mr. MacPherson explained the process for combining lots and what the Subdivision Regulations are used for and where she may access them.

Kathleen Clore, 1924 South Avenue, said she was sent a letter from H.L. Overall who lives at 1925 South Avenue and he asked her to read it to Commission.  That letter was provided to staff and included in the file.  Mr. Overall is against the zoning change because he questions the real intent for developing the property and he wants to have RV access to and from the rear of his lot.  He is concerned about the noise, environment and tall structures seen from his backyard.  Ms. Clore asked for clarification of the location of the fence and the access to Washita and South.  She was advised the plantings would be on the side of the neighborhood.  Mr. Wheeler said Mr. Walters stated they would have no access onto South or Washita but staff, because of legal reasons, did not want to state no.  If access is desired it would have to come through Commission for a public hearing and the Director of Public Works for approval.  Ms. Clore said she feels this is just a process and everyone’s minds have already been made up.  Mr. Wheeler advised Commission members are not paid and come to the meetings with an open mind. 

Mr. Rognstad said access can be limited to South and Washita.  Staff’s thinking was that if it were to make sense to have access at a date in the future it would have to go through the public hearing process to amend the zoning district.  It made more sense to have a hearing before Commission to allow neighbors to address the possible change. 

Mark Clore, 1924 South Avenue, said he is concerned there is still no definite plan for the property, property values, construction and the length of time it will take the trees to sufficiently block their view of the property.  He said once the property is rezoned it can be subdivided and then the new owners may want to gain access to South and Washita.  Mr. Wheeler said there is no definite use written into the proposal and he asked staff to address the process for subdivision of the property.  Mr. MacPherson said this is a zoning case and the zoning would impact the lots.  At the time of development the lots will be combined and if someone desired that to change they would have to apply for rezoning or a new plat, which would go through the public hearing process.  He said if someone wanted to develop under the zoning being considered tonight, they would have to meet the conditions within this plan. 

Mr. Wheeler asked Mr. Walters to address the access onto South.  Mr. Walters said they stated at the previous meeting they were comfortable with barring access onto South and Washita.  The additional language was added at the request of staff.

Mr. Edwards asked Mr. Walters to address the uses the neighborhood association asked to have removed from the proposal but were not.  Mr. Walters said at the previous meeting they asked to have nine specific uses prohibited in the overlay district, of which seven have been agreed to.  They were concerned about an interpretation issue on the request for the prohibition of manufacture and trailer sales so that was not included in their proposal.  Another item not included related to campground and RV’s.  They felt there was a possibility that a guest could stay in their RV while the rest of the family is in the hotel. 

Trish Pearson, 2114 South Holland, said she is the President of the Seminole/Holland Association.  Ms. Pearson asked that QQQ construction yards be included on the list of restricted uses and provided Commission with pictures showing the construction yard behind the Bass Pro Shop store.  She also provided Commission with an aerial map showing the location of the sewer pipes in the neighborhood that they feel is at or near capacity prior to the development of the subject property.  Because of this they ask the City to update the system as soon as possible.  Ms. Pearson asked for clarification on the size of the bufferyard.  She believed bufferyard F1 was 20 feet and F was 25 feet.  Mr. MacPherson said on the neighborhood side there is to be 15 feet of plantings, a wall or fence and then another 5 feet of bufferyard.  Mr. Alden asked if bufferyard F was required to be 25 feet.  Mr. MacPherson said it is 20 feet with a fence or 25 without a fence.  Exhibit C, Item 5 is a condition added by the applicant stating the bufferyard is 20 feet and has a fence.  Ms. Pearson said she believed there were several sizes within the bufferyard F category.  Mr. Rognstad said there are other widths of bufferyards but as they increase, the number of plantings decreases. 

Mr. Shermer asked if the QQQ construction yard is permitted in the HC district.  Mr. Rognstad said that is a use in the HC District. 

Mr. Edwards said he appreciated the neighborhood association’s work and encouraged them to lobby for stormwater upgrades.

Mr. Rognstad presented Commission with descriptions and requirements of the bufferyards from the zoning ordinance.  Mr. Wheeler stated if a tree dies it has to be replaced.  Mr. Rognstad said yes and staff tracks that for the first three years.  He said the bigger the plantings are the harder they are to climatize and survive.  They tend to grow quicker if a smaller tree is put in.  Mr. Rognstad said an earlier speaker spoke of the uncertainty that a hotel would be built on the site.  He said you can tie the district down to that being the only use but if they are unsuccessful in marketing it as a hotel they would have to come back to Commission to allow for other uses.  

Mr. Lawhon said Commission is hearing and voting on a zoning application and not voting on a specific use.  Mr. Rognstad said that is correct.  Commission is voting on the HC district and placing limitations through the overlay district.  Mr. Lawhon asked if the developer of the hotel would have to come back to Commission.  Mr. Rognstad said it would not require they come back before Commission or Council.  They would apply for a building permit and BDS would ask staff if all conditions have been met.

Mr. McClelland said by specifically stating only a hotel was allowed it would alleviate the neighborhood concerns.  Mr. Rognstad said it could be limited in that way but the applicant offers to place the limitations on the property and Commission decides if that is acceptable.  Mr. McClelland said there were 77 uses in HC but only seven have been prohibited.  He asked if limiting it is the right way to do it.  Mr. Rognstad said if there are specific uses people are having a problem with it is up to the developer to decide whether or not that use can contribute to their development.  Staff prefers not to see specific developments because they are continually coming back before Commission and Council. 

Vicki Petiford, 5654 South Lakeridge, said her daughter lives at 1908 South Avenue and they appreciate Ms. Pearson working with Mr. Walters on these concessions.  Because of that she feels the focus is being taken away from the rezoning of residential property.  She believes the LI property on Campbell is more than enough land to do what they want.  They are asking they not be allowed to take the residential property and staff’s report does not recommend a hotel; they recommend an activity center.

Mr. Wheeler said Commission is aware they are requesting to rezone a residential area to HC and the activity center refers to this being an area where commercial activities take place and a hotel would be considered appropriate. 

Linda Hunt, 1014 East Sunshine, said it is commendable that the applicant and the neighborhood association have worked together.  She said she owns commercial property close to the new ballpark and property values in that area have appeared to rise.   She said her property is surrounded by commercial property and she feels safer because they have security on their property. 

Mr. Wheeler clarified the property she is talking about is not zoned R-SF.  Ms. Hunt said that is correct.  Her office is a mixed use property.

With no further speakers, the public hearing was closed.

Mr. Shermer said in two Commission meetings they have heard the pros and cons of rezoning the subject property to HC.  He believes if commercial rezoning occurs near single-family properties that the nearby houses should be affected either the same or less than before.  He feels the HC zoning, properly mitigated, is better than the existing LI zoned property.  There will not be a complete assurance that a hotel will be constructed, but given the location and the size of the property a hotel would seem to be a reasonable and economically feasible choice.  A hotel can be a good neighbor when compared to a more intense use and he has to trust Public Works to deal with any stormwater issues.  He said he would support this proposal with the hopes his confidence is not misplaced and a hotel will be built at this location.

Mr. McClelland said an earlier speaker stated this was case had already been decided.  He came to the meeting tonight with two concerns and planning to vote no.  Mr. Walters addressed his concerns and now he plans to vote in favor of the proposal. 

Mr. Edwards said he has seen no indication that decisions have already been made even in cases where they are dealing with an applicant who seems to have a special place in the community.  Commission has to look at what is a legal use of the property the requirements and not if it is a good or bad idea. He feels they have addressed those issues and have probably gone beyond what they needed to.  He believes the area will be improved and he will be supporting the proposal.

Mr. Lawhon said he feels HC is a better classification than the LI zoning.  After listening to the comments and looking at the new limitations he is pleased with the result and he will be voting in favor of the proposal. 

Ms. Hedrick said she has been impressed by the contributions of both the neighborhood and developer.  Commission has given everyone their full attention and she believes this is a good plan and will be voting in favor of it. 

Mr. Wheeler said staff’s perspective on cases is to ensure it is the appropriate zoning and that it meets the zoning laws and Comprehensive Plan but he believes that plan has contradictory items within it.  He believes Commission’s perspective is different because they hear the public input and have to consider that when making their decision.  Council has a different perspective because they have to be more responsive and they can be lobbied by citizens.  He has heard from Council that they rely on the recommendations of Commission.  In this case, he believes a hotel is a good fit and their reputation is excellent but he is concerned when an applicant puts drawings out that are not tied into the plan in any way.  He believes high intensity use on Campbell is acceptable but he does not feel it is acceptable on South Avenue.  He said there are some similarities between this case and a case heard by Commission several years ago.  That case was at the northwest corner of Grand and Glenstone.  The initial discussions before Commission involved a used car lot and the request was the R-SF property behind the lot that they wanted to add to their business.  There was some type of study that pointed out that many of the lots on Glenstone and Kearney needed to have a greater depth for the more modern commercial uses.  During the process conceptual drawings were presented that showed a sales office and a vehicle repair garage.  When it went to Council the discussion involved a car lot but a convenience store is now located there.  All the testimony from the car lot was that they would not be open on Sunday, late evening and no one would be able to drive through the lot to avoid the signal.  He believes what could happen should be considered and he feels the applicant’s intentions are good but they have left many openings for many other uses.  The applicant could come up with many uses that could even happen prior to the hotel being built and he envisions RV’s and boats being sold or old vehicles being stored close to the neighborhood.  Zoning should protect property rights and that includes the value and use of the property.  He thinks those that live on the west side of South have bordered LI for many years and probably should consider that someday it might become commercial but those on the east side probably anticipated the lots on the west side would remain R-SF.  He thinks the property rights of the owners on the east side of the street will be adversely affected.  He is opposing this case for three reasons.  He believes the excess depth of the high intensity uses from Campbell is too much to allow toward South Avenue.  He thinks the Comprehensive Plan requires neighborhood compatibility and that is not accomplished by putting HC across from R-SF and that the property rights of those on the east side of South Avenue will be compromised.  He thinks a hotel is a good fit but the R-SF to HC zoning should have had more creative thinking.  The R-SF area should have been more restrictive or a separate area all together.  He does not want to see trucks, trailers, RV’s, ATV’s, boats or storage in the area but there are many uses that he could see the area being used for.  Those could have included detention, children’s fishing pond, natural trails, seasonal holiday displays or a picnic area. 

Mr. Coltrin said he believes this is a better zoning district than what exists there today and zoning is the Commission’s job.  Their job is not to create the development, that is the job of the developers, but to evaluate what has been presented to them.  If this passes it will then go on to BDS for review of what they have laid out within the zoning.  It was tabled two weeks to allow time for the applicant and the neighborhood to discuss possible changes.  The developer was presented a list of uses the neighborhood wanted to see prohibited and it appears there is a 78% improvement in the prohibited uses.  He believes cooperation is key and they seem to have done that.  If this is not passed the LI zoning that is there today will not improve any stormwater or sewer issues the neighbors are having however, if the zoning is changed the improvements done by the developer may help solve or lessen some of those problems.  He will be supporting this proposal. 

Shermer made the motion to approve Zoning Case Z-11-2009/Conditional Overlay District #29 and redact the section of Item 4 on Exhibit C that states “without the approval of the Planning Commission and the Director of Public Works.”  Coltrin seconded the motion.  Motion carried as follows: AYES: Alden, Hedrick, Shermer, Coltrin, Lawhon, McClelland, Edwards; NAYS: Wheeler; ABSTAIN: None; ABSENT: Sutton.

OTHER BUSINESS:

 

ANY OTHER MATTERS UNDER COMMISSION JURISDICTION:

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at approximately 8:40 p.m.

 


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