Public hearing notice confuses some people living in north Springfield

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. Springfield is getting closer to presenting final plans to redevelop Kearney Street to city council.

Per state statute, a notice of public hearing was mailed to people living in the area.

This caused some confusion, leaving some people to wonder if they would be forced out of their homes as part of the revitalization plans.

"A lot of people. A lot of traffic. A lot of exposure," Mike Brown said, describing Kearney Street.

However, there are not a lot of businesses along the busy road.

"It's kind of deteriorated over the last 10, 11 years," he said.

Brown lives on block off of Kearney Street on the north side of Springfield. He said the area has drastically changed.

"A lot of businesses have closed down. A lot of places are up for rent. I see a lot of turnover in the businesses that are there. Crime rate's gotten a little bit worse. I've had my truck broken into three times," he said.

Plans to improve the area are in the works. It's standard procedure to mail a public hearing notice prior to city council giving their final vote on whether to move forward.

Brown said, "It sounds to me like they're buying up property, clearing it and either redeveloping it themselves or selling it to developers to put better retail space in."

"I do, first, want to apologize for any confusion we may have caused. That was certainly not our intent," said Sarah Kerner.

Kerner is the Economic Development Director for Springfield. She said the planned overhaul of Kearney Street never included residential areas.

"There's no condemnation of anyone's property. No eminent domain. Also, this is not a re-zoning," she said.

Business owners and developers will be given incentives, including some tax breaks, to help improve the area.

"The idea behind this plan is to revitalize Kearney Street as retail corridor for the north side of Springfield. Truly to benefit the residents nearby the area as well as those in the surrounding communities to the north," explained Kerner.

Similar plans were used to re-build the downtown area and Commercial Street.

"It shows that they kind of care about the neighborhood. Good for the businesses. Good for the people who live in the neighborhood. Good for the economy of Springfield," said Brown.

The public hearing will be held during the regular city council meeting Monday, July 2 at 6:30 pm. Anyone can sign up to weigh in on the redevelopment plans.

Council won't take a final vote on the redevelopment plans until the middle of July.