‘Huge mistake’ — Neighborhoods unhappy as Springfield City Council delays consideration of National-Sunshine development moratorium
Springfield City Council took up a divisive proposal to delay development along parts of Sunshine Street and National Avenue — before sending it to a four-member committee for more debate.
As he left Springfield City Council on Monday night, David Trippe — president of Phelps Neighborhood Association — said he wasn’t happy.
“No, I am not," Trippe told Ozarks Public Radio. "And neither are five other neighborhoods. This was a huge mistake because we have had a good relationship with the city.”
Trippe was part of a group of roughly two dozen city residents attending City Council Monday night who stormed out of the chamber mid-meeting.
Multiple voices clamored:
“So we don’t get to speak?
“We don’t get to speak.”
“We’re here to speak!”
“You had a whole room full of people here to speak.”
In response, Mayor Ken McClure began saying, “The bill’s been referred to the Plans & Policies Committee, and that —”
But residents continued to talk amongst themselves, with one saying, “So come on,” as they exited the room.
The residents came to the meeting to share views on a proposal by Councilman Craig Hosmer that would impose a 210-day moratorium on city development approvals in a specific part of town.
The delay would affect more than 200 properties along the Sunshine and National corridors — where they border the University Heights neighborhood.
But before meeting attendees could have their say, Council voted 6-to-3 to send consideration of the 7-month delay back to Council’s four-member committee for plans and policies — cutting off public comments before they could begin.
Councilmen Abe McGull and Matt Simpson made the motion, saying the proposal needed more consideration.
The vote followed a tense exchange between Hosmer and City Manager Jason Gage, who oversees city staff and reports to the Council.
Hosmer complained that a draft of his resolution indicating city staff supported a proposed delay — had been changed since January 17 to reflect staff opposition.
Hosmer asked, “Have you met with the neighborhood, University Heights?”
Gage replied, “No.”
Hosmer then asked, "Have you met with any of the neighborhoods in the City of Springfield?”
Gage answered, “As a whole neighborhood, no.”
Hosmer said, “There’s a reason the neighborhoods in this community feel like they’re getting the short end of the stick. Because the developer has your ear, the developers have the ear of Council, and neighborhoods don’t.”
Without referencing Hosmer by name, Councilmen Ollis and Lear pushed back at his criticisms. Ultimately, only Councilmembers Horton, Hosmer and Schilling voted against sending the proposed 7-month delay on Sunshine and National development back to committee.
Meanwhile, for months University Heights residents have resisted a developer’s plan to put a big mixed-use complex at a key intersection catty-corner to Mercy hospital.
Hosmer’s resolution would have allowed city staff to put development in that area on pause. The idea would be to gather input from the public to ensure new projects along those roads match the, quote, “holistic vision” embodied by the city’s new comprehensive plan, Forward SGF.
According to the city website, the next meeting of the City Council Plans & Policies Committee, which includes Councilmembers Ollis, Lear, Hosmer and McGull, is scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16.