RNA Meeting Minutes – August 2017

Board members present: Laurel Bryant, Mike Brothers, Jim Lohmeyer, Jeff Bentley, Jeff Barber, Sue Estes, Peggy Wise, John Melton, Nick Harper.

Others present: Ed Fillmer, Nancy Evans, Patti Penny.

Approval of minutes – Minutes from both June and July were presented. Jeff Bentley motioned to approve the June minutes, Peggy seconded. The minutes were approved. Jeff Bentley motioned to approve the July minutes, Jim seconded. The minutes were approved.

Treasurer’s Report – There was a $500 expense for a sponsorship for Owlapalooza this month. There were two deposits for memberships totaling $40. The account stands at $1,761.85.

Safety and crime update – Petty crime and theft remains a problem across Springfield. Officer Schulp and Lt. McIntyre said the city crime reports show that nearly all categories have basically doubled, except for major crimes such as homicide. Laurel noted that a neighborhood watch has begun. Please continue to lock doors and cars, close garage doors, and do not leave items in cars.

UHBC update – Patti Penny gave an update on the Sunday, Oct. 1 event. It will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. in the University Heights Baptist Church parking lot. There will be a stage with a sound system for music and entertainment. Parking is available in the credit union lot as well as part of the UHBC lot. Bikes and walking are encouraged. The following Sunday is the rain date.

Fall cleanup date – We are now looking at Saturday, Oct. 7 as the date for the fall cleanup event. This will be a joint event with Delaware Neighborhood Association. All About Trees will be present this time for tree and brush waste. Same rules will apply as in past events. Peggy said the funding is looking short for next year at this time. CPO and the City want to continue to provide this service for all neighborhoods and does not want to cut any particular events, so they are looking to cut costs across the board instead.

Changes to bylaws – Discussion was tabled until next meeting. Board members will discuss changes online and then post final drafts for the neighborhood to review ahead of the next quarterly general meeting in October. The full neighborhood membership will need to vote on changes.

Steering committee update – Laurel and Jim updated the board on the progress of the Neighborhood Plan steering committee. The committee heard from employees from CU about tree trimming and from Public Works about traffic. Citywide planning and neighborhood culture were also discussed at the meeting. Jeff Bentley said the steering committee has so far focused mainly on City education and outreach, whereas many members of the group had hoped it would be a body that has a more direct effect on policies and regulations. Additionally, the city would like to move forward on hiring a consultant that will study the edges and border corridors of the UCD. This is potentially a good thing because the study will focus on development issues. However, a consultant would not be able to start until December and the administrative delay ends in March. This could create a gap where the delay would end before any new rules are in place.

Cherry Street update – Roza Homes has a request before City Council for a blight designation for properties in the 1300 block of E. Cherry. The RNA wrote a letter that questioned the use of tax abatements for this project, although it did not oppose the project itself. This letter will be posted on the RountreeNews.org website and let neighbors know they can contact Council themselves. A discussion of tax abatements ensued. Shouldn’t there be trade-offs for abatements in terms of things neighbors want? Abatements can be a good thing if used as a chip to get better developments. This doesn’t always seem to be occurring. Furthermore, it’s not a “chip” if City Council easily grants every such request.

A letter was also written to Kelly Byrne of Say U Can formally denying his request for RNA approval of an exception to the administrative delay for his Pickwick District project. In the letter, RNA committed to continuation of dialog. Board members agreed face-to-face meetings are a good idea, but the premise should not be one of negotiation on exceptions to the delay, but rather, a clear conversation about what neighbors truly want – namely, lower density. Jeff Bentley noted that planned developments were written for East Cherry Flats and the upcoming Boomertown Lofts projects, and the density was ratcheted UP not down in both cases.

Jeff Barber mentioned the request by Domino’s Pizza for an exception to the delay. As discussed last month, they are expanding their property for more for sit-down dining and knocking down two building immediately east of the restaurant. One of those is partially in the UCD and therefore subject to the delay. Most board members felt this was a reasonable request; some felt no exceptions should be granted so as not to set a precedent.

Mike motioned that the board approve an exception to the delay for Domino’s to expand its building via a formal letter to the director of planning. Jim Lohmeyer seconded. Jeff Bentley and Sue opposed; all others approved. The motion passed.

Other business – Laurel noted that she is having back surgery in late August and will be unable to fulfill some presidential duties. Jim, as VP, will run the next meeting.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:20 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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