Three special use permits that are a key part of a proposed new shopping development along Mid Rivers Mall Drive in St. Peters have been approved despite concerns raised by neighbors.
St. Peters Board of Aldermen approved the permits – one for a fitness center, another for a drive-through restaurant and a third for a small gas station – at their Jan. 22 meeting.
The permits were submitted by McKelvey Properties, and represent part of a 23-acre property being developed along Mid-Rivers Mall Drive.
Plans for the property, to be known as “McKelvey Marketplace,” also include a grocery story and several other stores. The property has been zoned commercial since the mid-1970s,
The site is on the west side of the drive, south of Willott Road, directly west of the intersection of the drive with St. Peters-Howell Road.
The board voted 7-0 in favor of each of the petitions after the city’s planning and zoning commission on Jan. 7 recommended approval of the permits for the fitness center and grocery store but denial of the permit for the gas station. City staff had recommended approval of all the permits.
Five residents at the meeting spoke in opposition of the project.
Stan Gent, of the 1200 block of Golden Harvest Drive, told the board that the new development may add to traffic congestions and accidents along an area of Mid-Rivers Drive that has poor visibility for turning traffic now.
“Let’s call it what it is, it isn’t a fitness center, it’s a strip mall,” said Patty Ernst, of South Hillview Drive. Ernst said the development’s pipelines would be close to her property. Delivery trucks and lights that may be on all night may disturb the neighborhood and she worried about security.
She said she also worries about her health because of trash dumps and loading docks that would face her back door.
“This is going to call in all the mice, rats, squirrels and raccoons,” she said. “Anything that can jump or climb into those dumpsters is going to have a field day.”
Kent Haffer, of the 900 block of Dardenne Ridge Court, spoke in defense of other animals that frequent the largely wooded property – deer, turkey and foxes. Haffer and other residents said the wildlife would probably disappear once the property is developed.
Haffer and Dimitri Kaftantzis, also a Dardenne Ridge Court resident, noted that similar commercial properties are already located across the street on Mid-Rivers Drive.
Rich Musler, with Musler Engineering, who spoke for the developer, said the developers do not believe the development will be a determent to the area.
Musler said the entrance to the development will be aligned with the St. Peter-Howell-Mid-Rivers Drive intersection with signals modified. And, that the gas station will not be similar to larger convenience stores nearby on Mid-Rivers Drive that sell food and beverages.
“It (the gas-convenience store) should have been presented in a different light,” Musler said. The store will have six pumps and a kiosk and not a full store.
Musler said McKelvey Properties has the right to develop the property as commercial. The site, he said, has been zoned commercial before many of the nearby single-family homes were built and some of the homes to the north of the property were built by McKelvey Properties.
Questions about the impact of the development are valid, Musler said, but the city has in place ordinances regulating traffic and stormwater. He said the only question before the board is whether the three prospective uses for the property are valid.
According to city staff and Musler, even if these uses were turned down, the property could be developed commercially with other tenants.
Board members had few questions before they voted; however, Alderman David Thomas (Ward 1) said issues involving the entrances do need to be ironed out.