Council Overrides Landmarks Board on Galloway Village Historical Designation

In what turned out to be a surprisingly contentious hearing in front of Springfield City Council, the Council overrode the recommendation of the city’s Landmarks Board and voted down a historical designation for a building in Galloway Village.

The Landmarks Board had approved a request from the Galloway Village Neighborhood Association for designation of the Sequiota Store/Treadway’s General Store & Gas Station building at 3535 South Lone Pine Avenue as a city Historic Site.

The structure was built in 1929 by J.H. Ellison and was a gathering point for Galloway when it was a separate community named after a Union Army officer. The community thrived around the lime plant and quarry that dominated the town. What is now Lone Pine was once Highway 60 and 65, had nine gas stations and four grocery stores and was a major travel path through the region.

The store was something common in rural areas like Galloway that included multiple businesses under one roof like the filling station, repair garages and general stores. The architectural design of these buildings was done in a unique manner to allow for the multiple uses in the same location, and parking spaces for cars to refuel.

Galloway was annexed into the city of Springfield in 1969.

Those making the request point out the fact the building is one of the last structures of its kind in the United States, that it’s one of the last buildings in the Galloway area from the commercial district centered around the quarry, and that it’s important to keep the building to maintain the history of Galloway. They point out the redevelopment in the area that they feel has taken a lot of the historical nature out of Galloway, in part because a previous incarnation of the City Council declared blight over a large area of Galloway in 2014 at a developer’s request, and that the blight designation placed on the area is now considered to be a flawed designation.

Ron & Peggy Treadway, who ran the Treadway Grocery Store in the 3535 South Lone Pine location for almost 40 years, sent a letter to the Landmarks Board stating that the Treadway Store building, along with Rozell’s Market and the “Bike Shop” (which was John Morris’s Brown Derby) “are all that is left in the north part of the village.”

The Landmark Board unanimously approved the request for the historical status of the property based on a number of reasons:

  • The property has significant character, interest, or value as part of the city, region, state or nation’s history
  • Exemplifies the cultural, political, economic, social, or historic heritage of the community
  • Is a part of, or related to, a square, park, or other distinctive area
  • Represents an established and familiar visual feature of the neighborhood, community, or skyline, owing to its unique location or singular physical characteristics

Supporters of the designation that spoke to Council brought up a number of items to support their position including the items presented to the Landmarks Board. They spoke about how the neighborhood association is relatively new and working to keep the historical nature of Galloway alongside the redevelopment in the area.

Council was told that the neighborhood has held several meetings about how they would like to see redevelopment take place in the area while still maintaining the history of the area. One speaker said they don’t want to see Galloway end up “looking like every other part of Springfield.”

Under questioning by Councilman McGull, a few speakers connected to the neighborhood association answered that they did not contact the landowner before they made their petition to the Landmarks Board. They stated they would like to sit down with him “in the near future” about the property.

The supporters of the measure noted that under the current laws, they did not have to actually contact the landowner before making the petition to have the building declared historical. It was also noted that the approval of the landowner is not required for the Landmark Board, and City Council, to declare a building as historical, so that the Council would have the ability to save a building of historical significance should a building owner wish to demolish or make major changes to a building.

Those who filed the action with the Landmarks Board noted they followed the letter of the law in their actions.

The current owner of the property, Mitchell Jenkins, had continually opposed the property being designated as a historical site for a number of reasons including the building not resembling the architecture of the “early to middle 1900s” and there’s no historic value because of its current state. He also mentioned the buildings behind the structure are “in disrepair” and an example of why the area was declared blighted. He also says that while the building is across the street from Sequiota Park, it’s not part of the park, and “does not enhance or compliment the beautiful historic park.”

Jenkins told Council that prior to purchasing the property he had not had opposition from the area. He said their original plans for development would have “fit the landscape and character of Sequiota Park and the Galloway area.”

In his submission to the Landmark Board, which Jenkins reiterated to Council, he stated that he filed for an application for rezoning of properties based on the 2014 Galloway Area Redevelopment Plan. His company held a neighborhood meeting on July 16, 2018, and then held two more the city didn’t require to heard concerns of neighbors.

Jenkins told Council that they were met with hostility during the second meeting.

Jenkins also told council what he also submitted to the Landmarks Board, that he feels the action by the neighborhood association in applying for the historic designation without notifying him of the action is an attempt to “not only guide new development, but to stop new development in its entirety.”

He also said the action “negated” his property rights.

Under questioning from Council members, Jenkins said that while he’s willing to meet with the people who filed the motion with the Landmarks Board, he doesn’t want to commit to any kind of restrictions while he has the property for sale.

The Council members had a spirited debate on the issue after the closing of the public hearing.

Councilman McGull wanted to table the measure to have the neighborhood association members and the landowner meet to further discuss the issue, but city staff said it was a requirement under city code that the Council vote on the measure at their next meeting after the Landmark Board’s decision, and it could not be tabled.

Councilman Hosmer was very adamant in his position. He said that the Galloway residents followed the letter of the law under city code in their actions, and that even if the designation was put in place the only real result would be that a 60 day delay would occur when the developer filed any plans for the building. Even if the developer wanted to demolish the property, it could still be done under the designation that would be given if the measure were to pass.

Several council members appeared to be troubled with the fact the property owner wasn’t notified before the neighborhood association filed their action.

Councilman Ollis stated that if someone had filed for historical designation on one of his properties without telling him that he would be very upset by that action. Ollis is in favor of preserving history, and even feels Galloway should be preserved, but had concerns because of the lack of notification.

Councilwoman Fisk felt the action was “putting the cart before the horse” and was concerned it was being done against the landowner’s wishes.

Councilmembers Simpson and Lear both said they were supporting it because of the Landmarks Board’s recommendation, although Lear said he wished the measure could have been tabled.

“No ordinance is going to soothe over hard feelings and lack of discussion,” Lear said.

Mayor McClure said the felt the application for the designation without the landowner being notified was “unethical”, “disrespectful”, and “inexcusable”. McClure further said it would set a dangerous precedent if this was approved when the property owner being in favor of the action. He reiterated that in the last 21 years, there have only been seven applications for historic designation, and that the property owner in all of those cases supported the action.

The Council initially voted 5-4 to give the historical status, because Mayor McClure had pushed the wrong button on his voting panel. McClure then moved to reconsider the vote, which the city attorney said had to be done in the same meeting as the original vote and had to be called for by someone who had been in favor when questioned about the action by Councilman Hosmer.

The vote then was taken again, with the Mayor’s vote being recorded as a no vote, and the Council voted down the Landmarks Board’s recommendation 5-4, with Councilmembers Simpson, Lear, Schilling and Hosmer voting in favor of passage.

The supporters of the historic designation plan to continue their efforts to have the building given historic designation.

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