By Debby Woodin
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Residents of North Grace Drive in Joplin say they have enjoyed a tranquil oasis tucked away in the woods of their northeast Joplin neighborhood.
But no more, they worry.
A proposal to build multiple apartment buildings on part of the old Joplin Stockyards land on Newman Road threatens their peace and privacy, they told members of Joplin’s Planning and Zoning Commission at a meeting Monday. The commission advanced the proposal despite the opposition.
Owners of the former stockyards site are seeking rezoning of the southwest section of their property between Florida and Turk avenues south of Newman Road to build the apartment complex. The land is zoned for industrial use, and the owners have applied for multifamily residential rezoning.
The property has been vacant since 1995, when the stockyards moved to Interstate 44, east of Carthage. It had been in Joplin more than 70 years.
The owners had asked the City Council in April to waive a requirement in the city’s outdoor burning ordinance to allow them to conduct pit burning to clear the land for the possibility of future development. The council denied the request after the city fire chief, Mitch Randles, said he could not recommend it in view of the location next to a lumberyard.
Clayton Cristy of Tri-State Engineering told the zoning panel Monday that there is an intention to leave a buffer of trees between the proposed apartment buildings and the neighborhood that includes Grace Drive. He said the owners would like to leave a buffer of up to 50 feet, but they likely could not leave a strip of the existing trees 50 feet wide. A number of those trees likely would be cut to accommodate construction, he said.
While the city code requires a buffer of 20 feet, the owners want to leave more than that and not slash and burn all the trees, the panel was told.
Joe Singer, a homeowner at 330 N. Grace Drive, said he had lived in the country before moving to his existing home, “and I have never seen as much wildlife as I have in that area,” including deer, foxes and coyotes. “A 50-foot easement would be really nice,” he said. He estimated many of the trees in the proposed buffer zone to be 50 to 70 years old. “I would like to see them leave as many as possible.”
Jean Miller, 320 N. Grace Drive, said she would appreciate it if a dense strip of trees were left to shield the single-family homes from the lights, noise and traffic of apartment buildings. “We have a little jewel in the middle of Joplin, a little gem” of well-maintained homes and yards that look out onto the woods she would like to see rather than apartments, she said. “We just wanted our concerns to be noted.”
Two other residents expressed opposition to the rezoning, or at least concerns about stripping the vegetation adjacent to their homes. One said the neighborhood was already affected by the construction of a car dealership a few years ago on Turk Avenue that created lights and noise and the loss of a natural barrier.
The zoning panel voted 6-0 to advance the zoning request to the City Council with a recommendation to approve it.
Zoning requests related to the construction of a CVS Pharmacy store at the southeast corner of 32nd and Main streets also were presented. The proposal is to build the pharmacy on the existing sites of four current commercial properties including the Tropicana Bar and Grill and the former CableOne property.
An engineer for the project, David Barnett of Carlson Consulting Engineers, Bartlett, Tenn., asked for vacation of a section of the Old Main Street Road next to 32nd Street along with rezoning of the properties to a single, commercial planned district designation.
One neighboring property owner, Michael Cole, objected. He told the zoning board that he owns a rental house on Old Main Street Road. He said its privacy would be lost and its marketability damaged if the store is built.
The panel recommended approval of the zoning requests by a vote of 6-0.
Also receiving a recommendation for passage were requests to vacate street designations of 34th Street and Wisconsin Avenue inside the Park Plaza Mobile Estates in the 3300 and 3400 blocks of Indiana Avenue. The streets have never been built, and the owner thought they had been vacated years ago.
The panel also recommended renewal of a special-use permit for USA Metal Recycling, 2000 W. Seventh St., which was opposed by three neighbors because of noise and dust complaints.
THE ZONING REQUESTS will be heard by the City Council on July 1.