The Springfield City Council voted 7-2 to approve the recommendations by city staff to restrict development in the Galloway Village area of the city.
The measure became controversial because the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission failed three times to approve the measure and it was sent to Council with a recommendation of denial by P & Z members; city staff recommended the measure be passed by City Council.
Councilmembers, city staff, and citizens all noted the unique topography and nature of the area, but several said that they did not want to see the development in the area come to a halt because of new policies.
City staff said the restrictions are “guidelines” that would be considered by city staff when making recommendations on future development efforts in the region.
Marcie Kirkup, the President of the Galloway Village Neighborhood Association, spoke to Council about the unique nature of the area, the old-growth trees that populate the area, the topography which is unique to that area, and the ways that these items bring something to residents that cannot be captured in other parts of the city.
She also responded to criticism by some developers that the Neighborhood Association aimed to stop development in the region, saying that the Association “has not, nor has it ever been, anti-development.” She said they just want to make sure future developments work to maintain the feel of the area and respects the unique nature of the village.
Britton Jobe, a member of Planning and Zoning, addressed Council and felt that city staff had misrepresented P & Z’s votes on the measure as “procedural” rather than actual denials of the measure. When questioned by Councilmember Hosmer about the difference in votes, Jobe said it was akin to a court case being decided on a technicality versus looking at all the facts, which he feels Planning and Zoning did in their denials.
He also took City Council to task for not noting on the public City Council agenda that Planning and Zoning did not approve the measure while showing that city staff did approve the measure. Jobe said that previous public Council agendas would note the decision of Planning and Zoning; for some reason the P & Z denial was not provided to the public on this particular agenda.
Mayor McClure noted if the citizens wanted to find out what Planning and Zoning thought they could go find it in other places, and Jobe reiterated that this information is usually in the Council’s publicly released agendas for meetings.
Councilman Hosmer openly praised the Galloway residents for their position in expressing his enthusiastic support for the restrictions.
“If you overdevelop that area like you have on Glenstone or Battlefield, you ruin the nature of Galloway,” Hosmer said. “Galloway has a sense of place but if you allow unregulated development, you defeat that sense of place.”
The two Council members who voted against adding restrictions, thus siding with Planning and Zoning, were Councilwoman Fisk and Councilman Ollis; Ollis said that Galloway has developed into “something desirable” and did not want to see that end; Fisk said that she didn’t want to stop development and that decisions like this belonged to Planning and Zoning.