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Referendum Goes To Vote, Some Cry Foul For Safety

The intersection at Grand and Campbell in Springfield.
Traffic in the intersection at Grand and Campbell, the proposed site of the new Walmart. Credit-Shane Franklin

The Springfield City Council this week voted on an issue that many argue will have a significant impact on public safety and the business culture in Springfield. KSMU’s Shane Franklin has more.

Only two City Council members commented before Monday night’s vote to repeal their earlier decision to rezone the area around Grand and Campbell, the site of a proposed Walmart Neighborhood Market.

Councilman Doug Burlison took a moment to express his continued concern that the proposed project is too intense for that particular neighborhood.

“It’s going to be problematic with traffic concerns, and I’m going to stay consistent with my original vote and would certainly love to have some colleagues join me,” said Burlison.

Councilman Jerry Compton then offered his opinion.

“Personally with respect to the bill, I think we voted correctly the last time. Retail is appropriate for that area. Because some of the folks in our community felt a referendum was important, I will vote to support that and not to reverse our earlier vote,” says Compton.

After comments from the council members, Mayor Bob Stephens directed the council.  

“We will be voting first on item 26, Council Bill 2013-094. This is the issue to simply repeal our earlier decision, and will you please vote at this point,” announced Stephens.

The board in the back of the Council Chambers lights up with reds and greens with the councilors’ votes.

The vote was 2-6.

“And item 26, Council Bill 2013-094 fails, and that means this issue will go on the ballot in August,” explains Stephens.

Marla Marantz, with Citizens Advocating for Responsible Development, says they are incredibly disappointed with Council’s action to not repeal their former discussion.

“The council vote sends a message to developers that they don’t have to conduct traffic studies according to industry standards, they don’t have to design shopping areas in keeping with our comprehensive plan, which is in place to maximize accessibility and safety and preserve our neighborhood character, and most of all the council’s vote tells everyone that public safety is not a concern in our town,” says Marantz.

Scott Youngkin is an organizer for the local group, Stand up to Walmart, and says that his group is ready to undertake this election, and insists that the City Council has failed their duties in accordance with the city charter.

Both sides will have plenty of time to debate the issue as summer heats up. Citizens of Springfield go to the polls to decide the issue on August 6th.

For KSMU News, I’m Shane Franklin.