Proposed development to help homeless in Springfield draws criticism

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. Controversy has come up over a planned development to serve the homeless in Springfield.

Developers of Eden Village are hoping to build off the community's success. They are planning to build a second location, made up of 40 units on five acres, on West Division near West Bypass. However, some business owners and people living near by do not support the project.

Nate Schlueter, Chief Operating Officer for Eden Village said, "I think it's probably about the fear of disabled people who have been sleeping outside, giving them a community and a safe place to live out the rest of their days."

During a public hearing about rezoning the lot on 3303 West Division Street several people expressed why they think building a second Eden Village Community is a mistake.

The argument for and against the project has been going on for weeks.

"Originally this started off as concerns about storm water," said Schleuter.

Bob Hopkins owns a sandblasting business across the street from where the community might be built.

He said," These flooding problems have been a problem since we started in 1973."

The city has plans for dealing with flooding issues. They include building 50 foot stream buffers.

"Then it became about noise," Schleuter explained.

Aaron Greer owns a paving business on West Division.

"My trucks and equipment are loud. The scrap yard across the street is dusty. The sandblasters are loud. I don't understand why the zoning would be appropriate for the type of businesses around there," he said.

"We did a noise survey. It was less than the sound of a leaf dropping difference between where we are right now and over there," said Schleuter. "Then it became an environmental concern."

Hopkins said, "Just east of this property is the old Kerr-McGhee plant. Why would these people want to put 40 residents on a piece of property not knowing the environmental impact of it?"

"There's a neighborhood that borders this property. There were two houses on this property. There's never been an environmental concern on that property. Just because there's a railroad yard a mile away doesn't mean there's an environmental concern. If the people living there now aren't concerned about it we're not," said Schlueter.

Another concern is that developers are using a loop hole in the city's code to get the area rezoned.

"They may not look like your typical RVs but at the end of the day these have an international recreational vehicle certification," explained Schleuter.

Perhaps the biggest concern is how the planned community will affect the surrounding businesses.

Hopkins asked city council, "Why are you jeopardizing all of this revenue that goes right back to the city, why are jeopardizing this for 40 people who don't even pay taxes?"

A traffic study and some improvements to the infrastructure will have to happen before the project and get off the ground.

Developers are hopeful.

"We're going to be great neighbors and we think the neighbors around us are going to be great neighbors."

Springfield's Planning and Zoning commission recommend approving the ordinance to rezone the area.

Council is scheduled to take a vote Monday, May 20.