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News covering policy and issues related to city and county governments in the Ozarks.

Springfield City Council Considers Bills to Allow for New Sorority and Fraternity Near MSU

Michele Skalicky

Springfield City Council is being asked to consider two bills that would allow construction of two buildings to house a fraternity and sorority at the southeast corner of Madison and Jefferson.

During its meeting last night, council heard about an ordinance that would rezone the area, part of a larger section of Springfield declared blighted in 1964, to allow for the development.  Another ordinance would adopt the redevelopment plan for the area and allow for tax abatement.

Because the area is declared blighted, the city can offer 100 percent tax abatement for ten years, which the developer’s lawyer, Shawn Whitney with Spencer Fane, estimated would give the developer an approximate savings of $200,000 over the ten-year period.

The city's planning and zoning director, Mary Lilly Smith, said the logical direction for Missouri State University to grow is to the west and northwest.

"We've kind of given it a boundary on the south and the east by our preservation of those single family neighborhoods of Rountree and Phelps Grove, and to the north there's some restriction in terms of the Walnut Street Historic District," said Smith.

She said the rezoning (from a high density multi-family residential district to to a high density multi-family residential district with a a university combining overlay district) is "consistent with other redevelopment properties in the area to provide student housing."

Councilman Craig Hosmer expressed concern about the large number of apartments built recently and currently being built around Missouri State University.

"I can't believe that we're not reaching a point of capacity where we've overbuilt and those new buildings that go online are actually putting somebody else out of business that doesn't have the number of people to fill up those spots," he said.

Whitney told council he represents several developers with properties in the greater downtown area and that there are waiting lists for student properties.

Two single family houses and two duplexes would be torn down to make way for the development of the two buildings, which would house up to 24 students each.

City Council is expected to vote on the bills at its next meeting on December 12.

Michele Skalicky has worked at KSMU since the station occupied the old white house at National and Grand. She enjoys working on both the announcing side and in news and has been the recipient of statewide and national awards for news reporting. She likes to tell stories that make a difference. Michele enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking, camping and leisurely kayaking.