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Springfield's Galloway neighborhood wins appeal to put big development on hold

Elevation Enterprises LLC has been trying to redevelop property in the Galloway neighborhood since 2018.Galloway.JPG
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Elevation Enterprises LLC has been trying to redevelop property in the Galloway neighborhood since 2018.

In a decision that could impact future conflicts between local neighborhoods and developers, a Missouri appeals court sided with neighbors who oppose a big development in southeast Springfield’s rapidly growing Galloway Village.

Correction: An earlier version of this story reported the appeals court was critical of the City of Springfield for not calling an election. The article has been edited to clarify that the City did originally call an election — but later reasoned that the law supported a developer's request to halt the election. 

In a new ruling this week, an appeals court decided that the public may appeal city zoning decisions through a municipal election. For now, that decision puts on hold an apartment and business complex that Elevation Enterprises LLC has been trying to build across from Sequiota Park since 2018.

The Missouri Southern District Court of Appeals ordered the City of Springfield to hold a citywide election on rezoning property featured in the development plan.

The city originally had called an election, but that led to Elevation Enterprises filing suit against the City in 2021. In doing so, according to the appellate court, Elevation was "seeking, among other things, to permanently enjoin the election."

The City then took the position that the law supported Elevation's request for injunctive relief against holding an election, according to court documents.

In a concurring opinion issued June 8, one member of the three-judge appeals panel blasted the City of Springfield for that line of legal reasoning, calling it a “cancerous anomaly” at the heart of the case.

Judge Gary W. Lynch wrote that “the City takes the legal position that holding the election it set violates state law, and for that reason the City should be enjoined by the courts from holding the election.”

The judge added, “…I cannot reconcile the City’s simultaneously asserted, but diametrically opposing, legal positions that are clearly and irrevocably inconsistent. For this reason, I would strike and refuse to address any arguments in the City’s brief challenging its holding of the of the referendum election it called and set.”

Galloway Neighborhood Association leaders say they’re “thrilled” by the court’s decision to go forward with an election.

In a written statement, Melanie Bach with the neighborhood association said, "Our goal from the beginning was to ensure that citizens' voices were heard by the City, and this decision will certainly accomplish that goal. Through the court-ordered election, citizens will have the final say on this rezoning matter."

The City of Springfield declined to comment.

In the coming days, the City of Springfield and the developers can ask the appeals court to reconsider or try to get the case heard by the Missouri Supreme Court.

Gregory Holman is a KSMU reporter and editor focusing on public affairs and investigations.