A group of about 50 to 55 residents, primarily from the Bainbridge subdivision, attended the Nov. 5 Dardenne Prairie Board of Alderman (BOA) meeting to reinforce a long standing message: “We don’t want the planned Bopp Family Partnership commercial development in our neighborhood.”
When the Partnership requested an extension to file the Final Plan for the Cora Marie Marketplace Planned Unit Development (P.U.D.), it gave residents hope that they had a second chance to stop the project.
The proposed development of 175 acres of the Bopp Family property had created quite a stir at BOA meetings in the fall of 2013 with hundreds of mainly Bainbridge subdivision residents turning out to protest the proposed plan. As a result, the Partnership made concessions to resolve the residents’ concerns by planning and building the 87.5-acre commercial part of the property and delaying the residential development.
The aldermen’s vote resulted in a split decision, broken by Mayor Pam Fogarty, who voted in favor of granting a six-month extension for filing of the Final Plan for the development of the Cora Marie Marketplace P.U.D. As a contingency of the extension, the Partnership will be required to give the BOA an updated monthly report.
Voting against the extension were Aldermen Dan Koch (Ward 3), David Zucker (Ward1), and Doug Santos (Ward 2). Voting in favor of the extension were Aldermen Bob Menichino (Ward 2), Sharon West (Ward 3) and Dave Kampelman (Ward1).
The group noisily and passionately expressed their anger and frustration with the vote outcome and threatened to vote the aldermen and mayor out of office.
During the Open Forum portion of the Nov. 5 meeting, Resident Scott Waddington addressed the three incumbent aldermen, saying: “If the aldermen coming up for election in 2015 learns anything from this past year, you need to listen. You need to respond to the citizens of Dardenne Prairie.”
Waddington said there was no reason to grant an extension because the Bopp Family Partnership and the proposed extension offer them nothing they wanted.
However, Fogarty told the audience, “I have to look at the city as a whole. This small group represents less than 1 percent of the city of Dardenne Prairie (population of 11,494). This is what you want, but is it what the whole community wants?
“This group is not representative of the general consensus of our whole population.”
While the residents present hoped that the project could be stopped with a change of aldermen and mayor, an attorney for the Bopp Family Partnership disagreed.
“I think to a great extent what has happened to these 87 acres has happened and in many respects the city is not in a position to turn that around, no matter who is in office,” said Gary Fader, an attorney with Husch Blackwell. “The project is not going to go away.
“We have demonstrated in the past, a year ago and more than that, a willingness to try to compromise where it looked like compromise was possible and reasonable. We started off with proposing 175 acres and because a lot of people complained about the 87 acres that was nearest Bainbridge, we held off on that and we didn’t do it.
“So I think we showed in the past a willingness to listen to the people who come to the meetings and to compromise to the extend we think we can. We have always been willing to listen, and we still are. That hasn’t changed.”
The Cora Marie Marketplace tract is a portion of the acres of land located at the intersection of Bryan and Feise roads. An Area Plan filed for the property would have expired on Dec. 4 unless a Final Plan had been submitted and approved by the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission by that date, or an extension had been granted.