SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Members of Springfield’s Planning and Zoning Commission have voted to recommend that Springfield City Council deny a rezoning proposal regarding a development at the intersection of National Avenue and Sunshine Street. 

The vote was 7-1 after nearly an hour of discussion from the members present.

“I don’t believe it compliments the neighborhood,” said Commissioner Bruce Colony said. “I don’t believe the neighborhood is on board, and so I can’t support it at this time.”

“I really believe that this quadrant is eventually going to develop and there probably is going to be a commercial use there,” Commissioner Carl Knuckles said. “But on this particular quadrant, I don’t think it blends in with the neighborhood.”

The potential development, dubbed “The Heights” would sit on the northwest corner of the intersection of the University Heights neighborhood.

“I think we’re encroaching too much onto that neighborhood with this development. If it were just National and Sunshine, then I would have no problem with it. But the way it is now, I can’t support it,” Commission Helen Gunther said.

KOLR 10 spoke to Donna Hemann, the President of the University Heights Neighborhood Association, after the vote.

“I think a lot went into the vote this evening. I appreciate the sensitivity of many of the remarks that were made by various commissioners,” Hemann said. 

Hemann says it doesn’t make sense to build new complexes or stores when there are empty ones nearby.

“You’ll see approximately 50% of those commercial establishments empty,” Hemann said. “When we listen to Mr. Jobe and some other folks mention that they are concerned that business is going to go [outside of Springfield], business isn’t going to go elsewhere. It can’t survive where it is right now.”

The lone vote for approval was from Chairman Britton Jobe, who voiced his opinion before the vote.

“It’s my belief that the Conditional Overlay district addresses the potential incompatibility aspects of adjoining single-family, residential and general retail by encouraging neighborhood-level mixed-use and aesthetic compatibility with the neighborhood,” Jobe said. 

The development proposal and the recommendation for denial from Planning and Zoning will be heard by Springfield City Council on May 22.

KOLR 10 reached out to the developer for comment but did not hear back.