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Board set to vote on Imo’s development plan

Imo’s Pizza’s “square beyond compare” may be coming to Lake Saint Louis, although some residents near the proposed location are worried about negative impacts on their subdivision.

The Lake Saint Louis Board of Aldermen delayed a decision at their June 16 meeting on a change in a development plan and special use permit that could clear the way for an Imo’s restaurant along Hwy. N. If approved, it would be the city’s first Imo’s restaurant.

The change would allow a 7,020-square foot, four-unit retail building on a 1.77-acre plot. The property is located on the north side of Hwy. N, south of Pond Fort Trail, west of Ronald Reagan Drive, and east of Ridgeway Drive.

Board members, with the exception of Mayor Kathy Schweikert, said they supported the change despite objections by nearby Sommers Landing subdivision residents; however, they agreed to a request by Alderman John Pellerito (Ward 3) to delay a second reading and final vote. The board’s next scheduled meeting is July 6.

Subdivision residents said the restaurant could disrupt their neighborhood.

“We do have a lot of concerns about lighting issues, late nights and the hustle and bustle of traffic,” said Michael Meatte, a director with the Sommers Landing Homeowners Association.

Nearby residents anticipated the location would be the site of an office building when they moved in, city officials said.

Tom Palitzsch, a broker and associate owner of Thomas Realty Group LLC, representing Hawk Ridge Investors LLC, the developer proposing the new Imo’s, told the board that the new retail space “would be an asset to the community.”

Palitzsch said Hawk Ridge wants to work with nearby residents and have agreed to a less obtrusive design of the building and cutting down on lighting.  Other retail businesses are locating nearby, he added.

“We feel this is a continuation of the Hwy. N retail corridor that was created many years ago,” Palitzsch said. “Traffic here is tremendous. Nowhere else in Lake Saint Louis do we have this traffic and that’s what drives retail.”

Retail property in the nearby Shoppes at Hawk Ridge shopping center is available but Imo’s officials prefer developing their own property, which would be a $1.5 million investment, Palitzsch said. Retail may be the highest and best use of the property, he added.

The city’s planning and zoning commission voted not to recommend the application at its June 4 meeting. Steve Schertel, the city’s community development director, has said there is other retail property available.

“I just don’t like going back on how it was zoned and changing the zoning after residents purchased their homes,” Schweikert said. “If we were in that same situation we might have a different opinion if it was behind our house.”

But the city’s six aldermen indicated they tended to support the application, some noting that the developer has gone out of their way to accommodate nearby residents.

Alderman Gary Torlina (Ward 1) said residents needed to check on surrounding zoning when they buy a property and this change may not have a severe effect on their property values.  “When do you draw the line as to when you are going to rezone something and not rezone something,” he said. “I just don’t know where that line is.”

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