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    Planning & Zoning rejects "missing middle" housing proposal due to density concerns

    By Marta Mieze, Springfield News-Leader,

    30 days ago

    A new proposal for "missing middle" housing west of Mercy Hospital on Cherokee Street failed to receive support from Springfield's Planning & Zoning Commission Thursday evening due to concerns about a sufficient "step down" in density.

    The development called for rezoning four properties along East Cherokee Street between Hampton Avenue and the TownePlace Suites at National Avenue and Cherokee. Currently all four properties feature single-family homes. The developer, One Hundred Two Glenstone Inc., aims to rezone the four properties to medium density multi-family residential.

    The developer wants to build to build 14-unit, two-story apartments on the lots, which total about 0.7 acres. The development would fill the need for "missing middle" housing, meaning options that exist between high-density apartments and single-family homes, which the city's housing study highlighted as a need. The four properties are mostly surrounded by traditional single-family neighborhoods, with the exception of the hotel on the east and some medium-density apartments on the southeast. Senior Planner Michael Sparlin said that while properties north of the subject lots were zoned single-family, the properties are actually duplexes and more multi-family housing.

    Neighborhood concerns mostly addressed

    To accommodate some of the concerns of the nearby neighborhood, a proposed conditional overlay district would limit density to a maximum of 14 units, limit the height to two stories and require a six-foot-tall, solid wood fence along the south property line next to the single-family homes.

    The development plans include a lot with 22 parking spaces behind the apartment building. Because the apartments would include fewer than 20 units, amenities are not required. While stormwater drainage was also a point of worry, city staff said recent stormwater improvements along Hampton Avenue would prevent any future issues.

    At a neighborhood meeting held in December ahead of the rezoning hearing, several neighbors, including representatives of the Seminole Holland and Meador Park Neighborhood Associations, said they would much rather prefer a low-density multi-housing development over a medium-density one, arguing it would better compliment the single-family neighborhood surrounding the property. No neighbors were present or spoke at Thursday's hearing.

    "[Low-density residential zoning] would only allow 11 total units on the 0.68 acre tract. Our client needs 14 units to make the project economically feasible, which puts the density at 20.59 units per acre," representatives from Lee Engineering noted in neighborhood meeting documents.

    More: Fassnight neighbors split on new multi-family housing proposal from local family

    Daniel Richards with Lee Engineering said the 14-unit limit was a way to make concessions with the neighborhood concerns about higher density. But commissioners remained hesitant, questioning whether the development was "stepped down" enough. The city encourages a step-down transition approach between higher intensity and commercial uses and single-family, less intense neighborhoods.

    "I don't see this really following the step-down approach that Forward SGF has put in front of us, because we are still looking at a medium density as opposed to a low density that the neighborhoods have requested," Commissioner Eric Pauly said.

    In a 2-5 vote, the commission did not recommend approval of the rezoning, with only Commissioners Bill Knuckles and Dan Scott in support and Commissioner Randall Doennig absent. The rezoning case now heads to Springfield City Council on July 8 for a public hearing.

    Marta Mieze covers local government at the News-Leader. Have feedback, tips or story ideas? Contact her at

    This article originally appeared on Springfield News-Leader: Planning & Zoning rejects "missing middle" housing proposal due to density concerns

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