Phelps Grove residents meet to discuss projects, possible changes

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SPRINGFIELD — There was an open house Tuesday night for residents in the Phelps Grove area to discuss results from a 2018 survey and workshop. 

However, one subject seems to be the center of concern for many homeowners. 

A Springfield man, Mark Hunter, who owns property there wants to build student housing in the neighborhood. 

He began that process, but is now delayed by the city after residents spoke against it.

Tonight, a city offical explained that situation, and some residents vented their frustrations with the thought of more student housing. 

On Maryland Avenue, Hunter owns four individual 25 foot-wide lots that are all in the same space. They were plotted that way back in the early 1900’s, and there was once a home on the lots.

That home is no longer there, and what remains is an empty, undeveloped plot of dirt. 

Hunter had approval to clear the space of the home and the trees, which he did in the fall of last year. But, after residents argued student housing does not fit within the culture of their neighborhood, Springfield City Council voted to put a halt on his plans. Senior City Planner Alana Owen explains. 

“There was administrative delay that was approved by city council that basically said we’re not going to issue any building permits, demolition permits — let anything happen until we can look at that situation and determine if that’s appropriate,” Owen says. 

That delay will last for 180 days. One thing that is being proposed is a minimum lot size of 40-feet in width for renovations or new developments. This would make the size of a potential development bigger, but not allow for more individual lots. 

Jim and Fran Giglio are among the many residents who oppose more student housing. They have lived in the neighborhood for 43 years. Jim is worried about the space parking would take up, as well as the dynamic that would be implemented in the area. 

“Our concern is, we want neighbors. We don’t want transients. Each one of those houses will have three houses, and three and a half baths, and that doesn’t sound like a typical family type of dwelling,” says Jim.  

Fran Giglio has planted around 150 trees in the Phelps Grove area since the 2007 ice storm, and she was upset about some of those being demolished in the process of prepping the lot for potential student housing. She, like her husband, is not ready to disrupt the culture of the neighborhood. 

“My husband and I — he’s a retired history professor, and I teach at OTC, and we’ve always been involved with students. We love students, but it’s not  the neighborhood for students,” says Fran. 

We placed a call to Mark Hunter, the man who wants to build this student housing. 

He did not get back with us for an interview. 

The city will use feedback they received Tuesday to revise their reccomendations if need be before going to city council to vote on starting various projects or passing new rules.
 

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