The municipal council believes that apartments with medium density have been rejected by P&Z

Despite the Springfield Planning and Zoning Commission’s recommended denial of a proposed apartment building near the corner of National Avenue and Cherokee Street, the Springfield City Council appeared largely supportive of the project.

Councilors cited the need for housing and “missing in-between” housing types when a rezoning bill that would clear the way for the apartments came up for debate and a public hearing on July 8.

One Hundred Two Glenstone Inc. is requesting to rezone 0.7 acres at 1102, 1106, 1114 and 1120 E. Cherokee St. from single-family homes to medium-density multi-family homes.

The applicant appears to be supported by C. Arch Bay Companywhich owns and manages commercial and residential properties around Springfield, including several properties near the proposed development.

Pending approval from the city council, the developer plans to build a two-story building with 14 apartments on the property. Four detached houses were to be demolished.

The proposed development drew pushback from nearby residents of the Seminole/Holland neighborhood at a December meeting, though no one spoke in opposition to the rezoning at the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting or the City Council’s public hearing.

The two-story apartment building will contain 14 one-bedroom apartments. (Photo courtesy of the City of Springfield)

Written comments describe concerns about stormwater runoff, traffic and the neighborhood’s residential density. Several neighbors requested that the developer apply for low-density zoning, which would allow for a maximum of eight homes on the property.

With a maximum of 21 units per acre — 8 less than what is allowed in a medium-density residential area — the project is on the “lower side” of density restrictions, according to Springfield Senior Planner Michael Sparlin. While city staff initially assessed the development to have a maximum of 18-20 units per acre, an additional unit was allocated due to the property’s proximity to Mercy Hospital and other multi-family housing.

The development will also include a six-foot wooden fence bordering the single-family residential property and covered parking behind the building.

City staff determined that the proposed development is a form of “missing in-between housing,” which could range from low-density duplexes to medium-density multiplexes, and serve as a transition from high-density uses to single-family homes, otherwise referred to as a “staircase down approach”.

Councilors dispute ‘abandonment’ of proposed flat

Councilman Craig Hosmer appeared to agree with the five members of the Planning and Zoning Commission who recommended denying the rezoning, who questioned whether the project was an “appropriate departure.”

Craig Hosmer holds the at-large B position on the Springfield City Council. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

“What we’re doing with our zoning is we’re forcing a sort of incongruent use together rather than doing what we kind of say we’re going to do is put single-family, duplex, triplex and then apartments rather than single-family and then apartments,” Hosmer said. “I think it hurts the quality of place that we have in the city of Springfield.”

Project engineer Daniel Richards said the developer “felt they needed 14 units to make the project financially viable,” but were trying to address as many neighborhood concerns as possible.

Richards also noted that the developer had a property directly south of the proposed development under contract to act as an additional buffer to single-family properties further south.

Councilman Brandon Jenson argued that allowing medium density over low density would have a “pretty negligible impact” on the neighborhood, with “basically no” difference between the two zoning classifications outside of the density restrictions.

“It seems like (the developer) designed the project to address as many of the issues as possible,” Jenson said. “They limited the building height beyond what is currently allowed under the zoning, they agreed to additional buffers and visual barriers to reduce the impact on nearby property owners and ultimately this is more housing in our community, which we desperately need.”

Monica Horton is the City Council representative for Zone 1 in Springfield. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

Hoping to see the development house individuals of varying income levels, Zone 1 Council Member Monica Horton also expressed support for the project.

“I think this is a home run that this development would be so close to the workforce, to Mercy,” Horton said. “So this is like a point of what’s needed and what really comes to a head in terms of the types of workforce housing that we need, that will enable people to reduce their dependence on themselves as a motorist and they can maybe bike to work or walk to work or what have you and so on.”

Zone 2 Councilor Abe McGull referred to the project as a “step in the right direction” and said he plans to vote for the rezoning.

Jack McGee

Jack McGee is a government affairs reporter for the Springfield Daily Citizen. He previously covered politics and business for the Daily Citizen. He is an MSU graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in political science. Reach him at [email protected] or (417) 837-3663. More by Jack McGee

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