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County, residents, developer compromise on new development

The Windcastle Subdivision and empty tract of land under discussion, near Faredale Lane. (Google Maps photo)

The Bluffs of Windcastle subdivision and empty tract of land under discussion, near Faredale Lane. (Google Maps photo)

The St. Charles County Council has approved a rezoning request and preliminary plat allowing 38 new homes to be built near the Bluffs of Windcastle subdivision after a compromise that may prevent more traffic through the subdivision was reached between attorneys for subdivision residents and the developer.

The vote came after another lengthy discussion involving the attorneys and councilmembers, the latest chapter in a review that has gone on for months and has pitted residents against the developer, and sometimes against county officials.

The council approved the rezoning and plat at its Jan. 11 meeting after agreeing not to open Faredale Lane, which would connect the new development and the Windcastle subdivision, without notifying residents of any change. The county also will be required to hold a public hearing and vote on opening the street. The 35-acre tract where new homes are to be built is on the east side of Castle Lake Court at Windcastle Place, at the west end of Faredale Lane.

Residents have maintained that if Windcastle Place and Faredale Lane were connected, a large amount of “cut through” traffic would use the road between Jacobs Station Road and Pitman Hill Road. The attorneys came up with the idea of placing a permanent gate at that location, but one that could be removed for emergency vehicles responding to calls and would be acceptable to the Cottleville Fire Protection District.

The applicant, Lombardo Homes of St. Louis, sought a rezoning from single-family residential with a one-acre minimum lot size to single-family residential, with a 20,000-square-foot lot size minimum.

Windcastle residents in the adjacent, and affluent, 76-home subdivision opposed the rezoning when it came before the county’s planning and zoning commission in October and November and before the council on Dec. 7 and Dec. 21.  The commission recommended denial.

The council tabled a decision on the rezoning and plat on Dec. 21 to allow residents and the developer to come up with an acceptable compromise. Helmut Starr, an attorney representing the Windcastle Homeowners Association, and Brad Goss, an attorney for the developer, told the council on Jan. 11 that they had come to some agreements, but wanted the council’s assurances on some of them.

Starr said residents would go along with the council’s decision approving the rezoning and preliminary plat if the county would support the gate with the notification requirement. The developer also would grant an easement that would allow emergency providers to go through the gate, but would not allow through traffic.

He also suggested that the council approve allowing the county an option to acquire the right-of-way for a 15-foot by 42-foot piece of property, at a cost of about $500, that would allow Faredale to be opened or extended as a public street. But the county could not exercise the option for 10 years, giving residents assurance that their property would not be subject to having a public street running through it for at least a decade. Starr said such an agreement would protect property values.

Councilmembers generally were not in favor of the 10-year agreement. Councilmember Mike Klinghammer [District 6] said he had had no problem with notifying residents of the three subdivision plats, holding a public hearing and having the council make a decision about opening Faredale Lane as a through public street. The 10-year option, however, might “tie the hands” of future councils, he said.

Councilmember John White [District 7] suggested the council vote on the same agreement that was before the council on Dec. 21. Subdivision residents could bring additional changes back to the council for approval, he said.

“We don’t do those kind of special arrangements for anybody,” said Councilman Joe Brazil [District 2]. County Executive Steve Ehlmann and other councilmembers said the county was unlikely to open the street unless it is requested by local residents.

In the end, the council approved a motion by Councilmember Mike Elam [District 3], based on advice from acting County Counselor Greg Dohrman, to amend the bill to add the notification requirement, but not the 10-year option agreement.

The rezoning and preliminary plat, with the notification requirement, were approved by a 6-0 vote. Councilman Dave Hammond [District 4] was absent.

Starr later said the residents did receive some assurance that any change in the status of Faredale Lane would require notification, a public hearing and a decision by the council.  He said he would have to talk to his clients regarding whether they would ask the county to reconsider the option agreement.

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