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Uptown moratorium tabled

A moratorium on new development in much of Dardenne Prairie has been put on the back burner.

The city’s Board of Aldermen agreed at its Aug. 19 meeting to table imposing a moratorium on new development in the city’s Uptown Zoning District for now. But the city is expected to hold public meetings in coming months to gather input on changes to the district and its development regulations.

The board took that action after hearing from residents and businessmen concerned about shutting off development activity. The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission also voted at its Aug. 12 meeting to recommend that the moratorium be tabled.

Property owners suggested that a moratorium might discourage real estate sales and instead recommended that the city make changes that would attract more and varied kinds of business uses. For their part, potential buyers said they have been discouraged when they learned about strict building codes and design issues in the district.

“I think we’ve had one (a moratorium) for the last seven years,” said Robert Shatero, referring to the fact that he has had some interest but no buyers for a property he owns in the district.

Ed Holthaus, a realtor for Shatero, said over the last two and a half years he has received as many as 10 calls a month from potential buyers; however, he said that interest falls off when the potential buyers learn the development rules in the district.

While the moratorium is off the table, Zucker and the city’s board members do want to examine the city’s comprehensive plan, which serves as a guide for future land use, spells out possible zoning in specific portions of a city and sets policy on issues such as housing, parks, flood-prone areas and other issues. Zucker also has said he will call public meetings – sending out notifications to property owners and residents – to discuss the comprehensive plan and uptown district.

The uptown district, adopted in 2007, is an attempt to provide the town with a civic “core”– a type of mixed-use area that includes a kind of downtown. However, Zucker agreed that the district has not been a draw for development.

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