Dozens of Battlefield neighbors gather to sign petition against proposed zoning

Property currently zoned R-1, but developer requests it be rezoned for multi-family housing
Published: Aug. 22, 2020 at 9:54 PM CDT
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BATTLEFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - A large plot of land that once was supposed to be a school is now drawing quite a bit of concern from neighbors who fear it could soon be the home of a large apartment complex.

Back in 2019, Springfield Public Schools sold a 34-acre property south of Harrison Elementary School. The property was sold to SPI of Springfield, LLC. While the property is currently zoned for singly family homes (R-1), the developer initially requested it be rezoned for multi-family homes.

Residents in the area are upset by the proposal, which would lead to single-family homes and an apartment complex being built on the land.

People living nearby said the proposal comes with an assortment of issues.

“There are several issues with the whole project,” opposition organizer Patti Penny said on Saturday. “One is the safety of the children. Having two elementary schools here very close by is a concern with increasing a lot of the traffic.”

Penny has lived on Weaver Road since 1966. Her home is right across the land. She said she has seen a lot of changes since she moved to the area.

“It was country when we moved here,” she said. “We’re not against change. We really promote that. There are some very good developers here that have done a marvelous job of putting subdivisions together.”

While she said some changes are good, Penny said re-zoning is one she does not support at all.

Many other neighbors are also worried about the traffic.

“We have a lot of exercise people, those that want to walk or ride bicycles and that sort of things, and additional traffic will make that a more dangerous situation for them,” resident Williford Lair said.

Lair and his wife Charlotte said with so much new housing in the small area, there are estimates of thousands of cars passing through the neighborhood everyday. They said that concerns them for the safety of the children.

But residents are not just worried about the traffic. They said the list of issues could go on forever. Some are worried about the effect an apartment complex could have on their property value.

The developer also wants to build a few homes as well, and Penny has a few concerns about that too.

”We do not want a pad, which has now been proposed, as a possibility,” she said. “That allows for smaller lots and we want it consistent with the community that is here.”

Lair also said he worries that an apartment would change the area’s entire appeal.

“This community is primarily made up of older people, like ourselves,” he said. “To change the whole complexion of the whole community is something that we are not really in favor of. Most of us bought into the area because of the community.”

His wife agreed, adding that she liked the area’s appeal of being a “quiet neighborhood.”

Flooding and drainage concerns are also their minds. But even after a retention pond was proposed, they still are not satisfied.

“Retention ponds are troublesome, they overflow and they also attract insects which can be an issue,” Penny said.

Dozens of people gathered Saturday night across the plot of land to sign notarized petitions opposing the proposal. Penny and others in attendance said they are hopeful the Greene County Commissioners will hear their voices.

Others said they understand that eventually something will in fact be built on that land, but they hope they can reach some sort of agreement with the county and the developer to make sure all parties are satisfied.

The neighbors have gathered more than 500 signatures so far and plan to gather several more in the upcoming weeks. The zoning board rejected the developer’s proposal in July. The county commissioners tabled a vote until September 1.

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