by Stephen Berkwitz, Springfield
It is an exaggeration to state that a “No” vote on Question 1 will cause development in Springfield to come to a halt.
The city continues to grow and attract new residents. Smart development that is sensitive to the character of neighborhoods and area greenspace will not generate widespread opposition. In fact, the slippery-slope argument made by Steve Pokin and others works both ways. Business leaders have already indicated a desire to remove the referendum option that allows citizens to have a direct voice in what gets built in their neighborhoods.
A “Yes” vote might be the first step in silencing residents and giving developers a free pass to build anything that the business-friendly City Council and Planning and Zoming Commission approves. The Galloway Village Neighborhood Association spent years and thousands of dollars to get this referendum on the ballot. It is difficult and unusual to do so. Developers and business leaders need not fear popular referendums if they listen to and work with neighbors. The developer in this case did not do enough to satisfy people’s concerns.
Voting “No” on Question 1 is a way for citizens to ensure that their opinions matter in how their city grows.
I don’t look forward to a future where zoning questions become the focus of citywide campaigns and elections.
Ballot Question 1: Developer plans apartments and retail, but opponents warn of dangers to Sequiota Park area