The preliminary plat of Reed Avenue Cottages is divided in 4,000-square foot lots. The top of the image shows adjacent lots and their sizes on East Cardinal Street, which runs east and west and connects with South Reed Avenue. (Photo by Springfield Department of Planning and Development)

In spite of opposition from residents of the neighboring Olde Ivy subdivision, the Springfield City Council signed off on a proposal to build a cluster of new homes in southeastern Springfield.

The council approved the preliminary plat — an early drawing of the 22-home development — for Reed Avenue Cottages on April 4.

Councilman Craig Hosmer cast the dissenting vote against the bill to accept streets and easements for the development.

A final plat will come up for consideration by the Springfield Department of Planning and Development at a later date. The developer is the Katy A. St. George revocable trust. Riley Shantz, who spoke on behalf of the development team at previous planning and zoning and city council meetings, said that each house would be a patio home, approximately 1,500-1,600 square feet, with a two-car garage.

Summary

A cluster development gained the preliminary go-ahead in southeast Springfield over objections from neighboring property owners in an adjacent subdivision off Reed Avenue. The developer plans to put 22 houses on 4.7 acres of land. Opponents say the development will harm their property values, put undue stress on their streets and cause stormwater runoff issues.

Opponents say development is ‘rowhouses’

Cluster developments differ from traditional housing subdivisions in that they usually plat homes on smaller lots, and there is less emphasis on the property having a minimum lot size. The total number of homes, or the housing density on the development’s acreage, is not necessarily higher than what the density would be if the subdivision were developed to standard specifications.

The Reed Avenue Cottages plan calls for 22 houses on 4.7 acres of land. There will also be some greenspace with a walking trail called the “common area,” on the developer’s map. The common sits to the west of where the houses will be.

The meat of the complaints ranged from concerns with the smaller lot sizes, the property values of the homes that will be built in relation to the values of existing homes in Olde Ivy, adding more traffic to Reed Avenue, which is a two-lane road, stormwater runoff and the potential for flooding.

“These small ‘cottages’ are basically ground level apartments, commonly known as ‘row housing,’ this housing project is not compatible with the neighborhood,” neighboring property owner Craig Bills wrote in an email to the city council. “We already only have one usable entrance and exit to the neighborhood, adding the additional traffic to the already taxed road would cause more problems than this type of development tries to resolve.”

Public feedback

Opponents have expressed concern that the decision didn’t involve enough public feedback.

Mayor Ken McClure said that members of the city council reviewed the communication from neighboring homeowners and legal communications from attorneys representing the homeowners of the Olde Ivy subdivision. McClure said that city government officials “made multiple trips to the area” to look at the property. 

The bill up for consideration on April 4 gave the city the authorization to accept the dedication of public streets and easements as shown on the preliminary plat.

“As a result, the role of the city council is ministerial rather than legislative regarding this council bill,” McClure said. “A ministerial function is an act following guidelines set forth in the code, and city council complies with the code when conditions are met.” 

McClure said that legislative matters offer more discretion, but that the preliminary plat for Reed Avenue Cottages was not a legislative matter for the Springfield City Council. 

“By law, the council must consider only the factors city codes state city council must be able to use on which to base its decisions,” McClure said. “By law, the city council may not consider deed restrictions or other private rights which may be enforced civilly.”

McClure said there is not a procedure in the city codes that would allow the city council to remand a proposal back to the Springfield Planning and Zoning Commission for legislative action after the planning and zoning commission has already acted on a preliminary plat.

Diversity in housing

On March 10, the Springfield Planning and Zoning Commission voted 5-2 to approve the preliminary plat of the Reed Avenue cluster development with some conditions, including assurances that public concerns over common space maintenance and improvements be met.

Jared Follin, associate planner with the city of Springfield, noted the Department of Planning and Development recommended approval for the development in documentation provided to the Springfield City Council.

“This development will contribute to the diversity of housing in the neighborhood and the preservation of natural features existing on the site,” Follin wrote. “Based on renderings of the proposed buildings and site plan that was provided to city staff, we believe the proposed attached housing development is compatible with the single-family housing in the surrounding neighborhood.”

Neighboring property owners argued that the development was not compatible with the rest of the neighborhood, which sits south of the intersection of Republic Road and Nature Center Way, close to where Republic Road and Glenstone Avenue meet at U.S. Highway 60.

Rance Burger

Rance Burger covers local government for the Daily Citizen. His goal is to help people know more about what projects their government is involved in, and how their tax dollars are being spent. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia with 15 years experience in journalism. Reach him at rburger@sgfcitizen.org or by calling 417-837-3669. Twitter: @RanceBurger More by Rance Burger