RNA Meeting Minutes – July 2017

Board members present: Laurel Bryant, Mike Brothers, John Melton, Peggy Wise, Jeff Bentley, Jim Lohmeyer

Others president: Bob Keyes, Terry and Christina Rucker, Nancy Evans, Laurie Knowlton, Roxanne Garrison, Beth Zigfried, Courtney Smith, Patti Penny

Call to Order – 7 p.m.

Review minutes – Postponed until later date due to not having copies of June minutes printed.

Treasure’s Report – There was one expense of $72, which was for the banner for the First Friday Artwalk event featuring Rountree. We have $2,221.85 remaining.

Cherry Street development update – Laurel gave an update. For nearly three years, we have been requesting a review of the UCD and Neighborhood Plan in order to get ahead of development. The review started in May but development wheels were spinning prior to that. We re-upped a previous request for a delay on development until the long-requested plan review is completed at the end of this year. The delay was granted by City Council, and was on lot combinations and re-zoning requests for a period of nine months. But one developer, Kelly Byrne of Say U Can, is saying he could move ahead regardless of the delay because the lots have already been consolidated and a high-density building is allowed under current zoning. He has expressed to the RNA a desire and preference to do a mixed-used development rather than an apartment-only project. To do a mixed-used project would require a Planned Development and zoning change, which the neighborhood would have to sign off on (the delay allows for the Director of Planning to make exceptions). More background on this was posted at Rountreenews.org. Question was asked about what is the main rub. Our survey said design is residents’ primary concern.  Another issue is density, which will add to traffic and break with the existing scale of buildings in immediate area. Jeff Bentley said we are receptive to the idea that Cherry is ready for redevelopment and it will be multifamily and it will be denser. But it must be walkable and must adhere to good design. The developer has communicated with the board, but overall the design changes to concept drawings have been relatively minor.

The UCD process is a bit unknown because City staff will write that document only after the Neighborhood Plan is finalized. The review process taking place now is for the Neighborhood Plan, not the UCD. The UCD, which is a more technical document, will then be revsed based on the Neighborhood Plan, which is more conceptual in nature.

There are other projects moving ahead regardless of the delay – Roza Homes will build a two-story apartment structure that is largely in keeping with the character of the neighborhood. The density will be 12 units on a half-acre lot (or 24 units per acre). The current R-HD zoning allows for up to 40 units per acre. We worked hard to get the delay. If we come back and grant exceptions, we could lose credibility with the City and, more importantly, with our neighbors. We have invited to developers to participate in the Plan review process. We can inform Say U Can about the Plan review process, and he can work on the PD as the Plan review process moves forward. The ultimate goal is to get a clean, modern Plan and UCD that will be effective in guiding cohesive development – to get a plan out in front of the projects.

Additionally, the owners of Domino’s Pizza at the corner of Cherry and National have also requested an exception to the delay in order to tear down two old structures immediately east of their building for an expansion. The easternmost property is in the UCD boundaries. It is the northwest corner of the UCD. Most board members felt this was a reasonable exemption and not in keeping with the spirit of the administrative delay.

Boomertown Lofts update – Laurel and Mike updated the group on this project. After initially saying they would not seek a blight designation and tax abatements, the developers of this project in the 800 block of S. National returned to P&Z and City Council asking for abatements. We are not sure why it happened this way. Mike said he believes abatement requests should be required by the City to be presented with the initial development requests. When done separately, it appears developers are side-stepping the process somewhat. However, RNA was able to get some concessions from the developers including: a higher 8-foot buffer fence, storm water improvements, and a promise not to send construction truck traffic through the neighborhood. This project has been approved and construction will likely start soon.

University Heights Baptist Church events – Patti Penny spoke about the upcoming events at the church. The entire neighborhood is invited. Next event is showing of Moana on July 28. A fall festival is the big event. It will be held in early October and will feature live music, 3v3 basketball, a game of “9 square in the air,” possibly a bike rodeo, food, etc. They continue to be open to any ideas that we have for events and outreach.

Safety & Crime – Officer Schlup was not present. He has told us the jail continues to experience capacity issues and there is little room for petty criminals. We need to follow all the basic safety tips as much as possible and make ourselves a “hard target” for the crimes of opportunity and petty theft. Some neighbors have recently attended a neighborhood watch organization meeting with SPD, though none of them were present tonight. Peggy suggested we need to be more clear about a protocol for reporting crimes.

Traffic study update – Eric Claussen from the City Public Works Department updated the results of the pop-up study at the Neighborhood Plan review steering committee meeting. We need to send him a letter to request he update us and in writing so that we can share that information more broadly.

Steering Committee update – Meetings with the City continue. They are taking all of the concerns and strengths from our initial big meeting and addressed them via City staff with the steering committee in more detail. The meetings are happening at an accelerated pace at the request of City Council. A survey is forthcoming. The City is also looking into the idea of hiring a consultant to give more insight into the traffic and design issues at Cherry and Pickwick.

Facebook – We have talked about a desire to consolidate back to a single page instead of having three FB pages. We are probably not ready for that at this time. It’s being discussed by neighbors themselves on FB. We will bring this topic back up at a later date and see what neighbors would like to do. There is too much else going on right now to focus on this.

Bylaws review update – No further progress has been made on updating the document. The most updated draft was passed out last meeting. Two of the three committee members were not present, so the issue was tabled. We are due to give these documents to the City soon (as part of their normal cycle of requesting neighborhood association bylaws) so we will shoot for approving this at the next meeting.

Owlapalooza – Will be Aug. 14. Info on RountreeNews.org. Will RNA be involved this year? Mike will connect Laurel with Olivia Hough with the PTA. Mike motioned we approve donation of up to $500 if PTA is seeking it. Jim seconded. Motion was approved.

Fall cleanup – Possibility for a “bonus” cleanup in the fall. September 30 or October 14 are possible dates. Laurel suggest October is better for leaves and prep for Halloween cleanup. Also looking at the next spring dates. It’s possible we could combine one or more of thse with the Delaware Neighborhood Association at a single location.

The meeting adjourned at 9:10 p.m.

About Mike Brothers

Mike is a Pickwick Person; husband to Maureen and dad to Vivian and Dorothy. He has lived in the neighborhood since 2011 and has lived in Springfield for over 20 years. He the PR director for Drury University. He was previously a communications specialist with the City of Springfield and the Springfield-Greene County Health Dept, and before that a features writer and music columnist with the News-Leader.
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