Eden Village, Springfield Reach Agreement

The City of Springfield announced they have reached an agreement with the nonprofit organization behind Eden Village regarding the latter’s lawsuit over a zoning denial.

Eden Village, a program of “The Gathering Tree,” focuses on building tiny homes for chronically disabled individuals. The group currently operates Eden Village I on East Division Street in Springfield with 30 small homes on their property.

The group had wanted to build a second facility on a piece of property at 3303 West Division. The proposed development received loud condemnation from surrounding property owners who asked City Council to deny a zoning change to permit the development.

When the measure was put to a vote, a supermajority was required because 72% of the neighboring landowners had filed a protest petition, and the yes votes fell one vote short.

The Gathering Tree then filed a lawsuit against the city after they didn’t get their desired zoning change.

According to city PIO Cora Scott, the city will be purchasing the West Division property. She did not reveal the cost of the purchase but said Council has approved the purchase.

“In any negotiation of settlement, there is give and take,” Scott said when OI asked what Eden Village gave up in negotiations. “We feel we are in a good place and wish Eden Village owners well.”

“We continue in our pursuit of eliminating homelessness and caring for all this area’s unsheltered,” Dr. David Brown, The Gathering Tree CEO, said in a statement. “This resolution allows us to do that. We are grateful for the commitment of all our employees and representatives throughout the case, and appreciate the City’s efforts in working toward a mutually beneficial and fair resolution.”

Springfield City Council held a public hearing on changes to zoning ordinances on April 20 to permit the establishment of “Tiny Home” communities.

“Eden Village and the City have worked in partnership in recent years to address homelessness within the City,” City Manager Jason Gage said in a statement. “This has included a $300,501 Community Development Block Grant that contributed to the completion of Eden Village I. We look forward to resuming that partnership and continuing to address this important issue.”

City Councilman Matthew Simpson was positive about the result and is looking forward to the future.

“I’m glad this has been resolved and we have the chance to work collaboratively toward addressing housing needs,” Simpson told OI.

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