A Galloway resident gave a rallying call to his neighbors after Monday night’s City Council meeting.
Ron Boles posted to a Facebook group: “A small battle has been won tonight! But the war still goes on!”
The “war” Boles referenced is an ongoing effort by Galloway area homeowners to preserve their neighborhood in the face of large redevelopment projects.
The “small battle” was over a bill to rezone about eight acres of undeveloped land at 2700 E. Battlefield Road from single-family residential to general retail.
A contingent of Galloway neighbors filled up multiple rows of seats at the City Council meeting Monday to watch the vote.
Councilman Matthew Simpson, who represents Zone 4 covering the southeast quadrant of town, made a motion to table the bill until Sept. 24. He said it’s to ensure “everybody has a chance to provide feedback.”
Simpson said architect Geoffrey Butler, who represents the applicant Briarcliffe Investments LLC and John Gentry, told him that the area would be used for medical office space, information that was not available during the last meeting two weeks ago.
City Council unanimously approved Simpson’s motion.
During the public hearing last meeting, several neighborhood residents urged council to vote “no” on the rezoning bill, citing a variety of concerns ranging from increased traffic to an impact on wildlife.
Tanya Vaughn said, “it feels like we’re being sold out.”
“I just really want you guys to stop and look at our community value. We’re a special neighborhood,” Vaughn said.
Simpson echoed some of the neighbors’ concerns at Monday’s meeting.
“We need to look at improving the safety and accommodating the increased number of residents there that have come along with the growth of the infrastructure,” he said.
Councilwoman Kristi Fulnecky said the city “owe(s) it to the neighborhoods” to do something about the traffic in the area.
“We really need to help this area because if we just keep developing and developing, if we keep kicking the can down the road, when are we going to help these people?” Fulnecky said.
Audience members broke into applause.
Mayor Ken McClure banged his gavel three times. “Please, no expressions,” he said sternly.
Later, McClure also spoke in favor of tabling the bill.
“Development will occur,” McClure said. “The secret is to make it happen the right way, that is in the fairest and best interest for the community.”
A different rezoning bill, yet to make its way to City Council, has also gained considerable opposition from Galloway neighbors.
Another developer has plans to build a new mixed-use apartment complex and retail center directly across the street from Sequiota Park.
More than a hundred nearby residents had a tense meeting with the developer and engineers on Aug. 20.
Engineer Derek Lee had insisted that people have one-on-one conversations with the developer’s representatives. Several people demanded that their questions be answered publicly. The crowd grew frustrated when he refused.
Boles, the Galloway resident who wrote on social media about the “war” against over-development, was also at the Aug. 20 meeting.
He told the News-Leader that developers became interested in the neighborhood after City Council voted in 2014 to declare the area blighted, making projects eligible for tax breaks.
It’s a decision he disagreed with.
“You don’t see needles on the ground. You don’t hear gunshots in the distance,” Boles said. “I just don’t understand why they would consider this a blighted community.”
(Read the original story on the Springfield News-Leader’s website).