Sunshine & National rezoning proposal set to go to City Council after Planning & Zoning Commission votes no
On Thursday night, seven of the nine Springfield Planning & Zoning Commissioners voted against a rezoning proposal that would allow for development at the corner of Sunshine Street and National Avenue.
One commissioner was absent from the meeting, and Springfield Planning & Zoning Commission Chair Britton Jobe was the lone yes vote for developer Be Kind & Merciful’s proposal to build apartments and businesses on the corner just northwest of Mercy Hospital, which sees 60,000 cars pass by each day.
Jobe said, "We have a conflict because we have these two arterial roadways that frame — as other commissioners have noted — a single-family residential neighborhood, which the comprehensive plan reminds us to preserve.”
KSMU reached Be Kind & Merciful co-owner Ralph Duda shortly after the vote went against his plan. He said he didn’t have a comment but noted the rezoning proposal would go before Springfield City Council soon.
City code says a rezoning request goes before City Council, whether Planning & Zoning recommends it or not. A city spokesperson told KSMU Thursday night that the rezoning proposal is expected to have its public hearing before City Council on May 22.
At the meeting, several commissioners counseled University Heights neighborhood residents that development is inevitable at the busy corner.
Here’s Commission Vice-Chair Natalie Broekhoven, who voted no: “The neighborhood needs to compromise — whether it’s this application or a different developer — otherwise City Council is going to negotiate for you. And that is never a situation that any neighborhood wants to be in.”
University Heights neighborhood association president Donna Farr Hemann texted Ozarks Public Radio a comment late Thursday night.
She said in part, "We, as a neighborhood, do not see a change of zoning in University Heights as inevitable. That would be quite a blow to private property rights."
This round of University Heights neighborhood-developer tensions began last summer
The case — which came to public awareness in Springfield after a drama-filled neighborhood meeting last August — has further complications. A group of neighborhood residents sued the developer claiming that 98-year-old deed restrictions present since the neighborhood was created prohibit any landuse other than single-family houses.
And earlier this week, University Heights residents Mark and Courtney Fletcher sent a letter to the developer’s lawyer offering $625,000 to buy four of BK&M’s properties. They wrote that they intend to rebuild a white house at the corner demolished by BK&M a few months ago.
Asked about the Fletchers' offer on Wednesday, BK&M’s lawyer Bryan Fisher told KSMU in an email statement, “To be frank, it is unclear to me, why a purported real estate offer is newsworthy, but regardless, we have no comment."