The Community Development Block Grant and zoning came into focus at Monday night’s Blue Springs City Council meeting.
The city requested approval of the Community Development Block Grant budget, which uses federal funds allocated to “entitlement communities” with the goal of helping low-income and moderate-income families. Blue Springs received the status of an “entitlement community” in 2006.
The proposed budget granted $75,000 to a minor-home-repair program, $48,000 to a first-time home buyer program and $5,000 in Fieldhouse recreation scholarships so low-income individuals can use the facility at a reduced cost. It also gave $25,000 to Downtown Alive development, $50,000 to a commercial grant program, $85,000 to improving sidewalks and $15,843 to program administration and planning. Hope House, a shelter for domestic violence victims, and the Community Services League will receive $12,240 and $25,000 allotments, respectively.
The proposal passed unanimously.
“I’ve seen some real changes through this program,” Council Member Kent Edmondson said.
Similarly, Council Member Susan Culpepper praised the budget as “well vetted.”
After this short and uncontested decision, conversation shifted to a rezoning proposal for 651 N.E. Jefferson St. Currently, its zoning status falls under “regional commercial/planned unit development/restricted overlay,” while property owner Ronald A. Mathers, represented by lawyer Christine Bushyhead, advocated for a “regional commercial” zoning. Mathers also asked to vacate the planned unit development. He expressed a desire to turn the estimated five-acre space into a storage business that he would then plan to sell.
“Storage is a need,” Bushyhead stated. “Having a more flexible, regional site there allows us to facilitate further community development.”
However, this opened the floor to widespread opposition. Numerous area residents expressed concern about potentially lowered home values and negative impact on adjacent properties. Those opposed also voiced doubt that a storage facility could bring jobs and noted it would not create a sales tax, instead favoring prospective retail development or office space. Challengers also mentioned a perceived abundance of existing city storage facilities.
“This would make the area look more like a commercial or industrial site than the entrance of a community,” said Anthony Barker, a resident who lives next to the lot.
Ultimately, the council unanimously rejected the rezoning proposal.
The council did approve a rezoning of Blue Springs South High School, which will allow for the construction of a freshman wing and a performing arts space. That’s on the ballot today, part of a $99 million school bond proposal.