Thanks to City Council and the Mayor for Denying Zoning Changes at Previous Bally Vaughn Apartments

Springfield ICON lauds the City Council and the Mayor for rejecting the zoning petition for the previous Bally Vaughn Apartments property. We sincerely appreciate their support of neighboring property owners. Their vote protects property values and quality of life for those residents and the school children who walk through this neighborhood to 4 neighborhood schools. The petition failed to gain the 6 votes needed to pass. Aldermen voting with neighborhood property owners include Ward 5 Andrew Proctor, Ward 6 Kristin DiCenso, Ward 7 Joe McMenamin, Ward 10 Ralph Hanauer and the Mayor. Ward 1 Chuck Redpath, Ward 2 Herman Senor, Ward 3 Doris Turner, Ward 4 John Fulgenzi, Ward 8 Kris Theilen (in whose ward the property lies) voted to approve the variances. Ward 9 Jim Donelan voted present, which does not count as a yes or no.

Springfield ICON wrote a letter to the Springfield Building & Zoning Commission opposing Zoning petition 2018-046, a request for changes to two properties, 1302 W. Washington St. and 1409 W. Washington St. for zoning reclassification from R-2 to R-3; a Conditional Permitted Use for a parking lot on a property separate from the property served; (7) variances and a possible extension of a previously expired non-conforming use.  The Building & Zoning Commission, which is not elected but appointed by the Mayor, reversed their previous vote and voted to allow the development to proceed. This even though they disapproved the previous plan citing concerns over the density of the project, which is nearly double what would be allowed if the project were being built new.

Avoiding Spot Zoning by variances, conditional permitted uses, and grandfathering

This highlights the usefulness of Springfield, IL zoning ordinance Section 155.157, Discontinuance of a non-conforming use  This ordinance expires previously-granted non-conforming uses after 6 months of vacancy and protects neighboring property owners from continuing uses that are not in sync with the area. It makes sense to return property use to be compatible with surrounding properties, and this case is the poster child for keeping this ordinance. The Washington Street property has been vacant for more than 3 years, not just 6 months, and in the intervening time has deteriorated even further than when it was first shut down.

This critical “down-zoning” policy was recommended by the Historic Westside Neighborhood Association and adopted by the Springfield City Council to combat spot-zoning by variances and conditional permitted uses that were “grandfathered” when the current standards were adopted in the mid-1960’s. It is an important policy that can preserve and protect the residential character of inner-city neighborhoods. The Shamrock Bar, just across the street from Grant Middle School, is just one a case-in-point about how (inappropriately) “grandfathering” worked at the time. There are other older commercial sites and apartments that may come into play in the future.

We ask that all members of the City Council remember the history and impact of spot-zoning and how it negatively impacts all types of neighborhoods, including some of the older subdivisions beyond the inner-city.