A final decision on plans to develop a 15.79-acre portion of property north of Feise Road near its intersection with Bryan Road in Dardenne Prairie, which includes a new Walmart Neighborhood Market grocery store, could be made by the end of this month.
The Dardenne Prairie Board of Aldermen approved a planned unit development [PUD] request for the tract on July 6, which was submitted by the Cora Bopp Limited Partnership. The partnership owns 86.5 acres in the area, known as the Bopp property, with the 15.79-acre site the first portion to be developed.
The action follows a series of public hearings held since March on the Bopp family’s plans to subdivide the 15.79 acres into five lots. The five lots include a 50,000-square-foot grocery store, 24,000 square feet of retail space, 26,000 square feet of bank or retail space, 3,000 square feet for a fast-food restaurant and a 740-square-foot gas station. Two of the lots were purchased by Walmart for the grocery store and gas station.
Meanwhile, the city’s planning and zoning commission will hold a public hearing to consider Walmart’s application for a conditional use permit for the site and its site plan for the store and gas station.
After the commission’s review and recommendation, the conditional use permit and site plan are expected to come before the full board for a final decision on July 20.
Mayor David Zucker said few residents have spoken about the PUD since March. Some residents object to the development, saying there are enough retail stores in the city and that more stores would add more traffic. The city has enough sales and property tax revenue to support its services and streets, they said.
In a message on the city’s website and sent via email, and in comments last week, Zucker responded to some of the questions he heard posed by residents about the development.
Other grocery stores, including Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Lucky’s Market have told the city hey aren’t interested in locating in the city, he said. A report in January by PGAV Planners of St. Louis, a consulting firm hired by the city, said residents are spending a large amount of money for groceries and retail outside the city so there is a market for more retail here, he added.
At the same time, Zucker said there are not many areas in the city available for development. The 15.79 acres has been zoned commercial since 2013 and the property owner is legally entitled to develop the property for commercial use, he added.
The city has also worked with Walmart and the Bopp family to develop an attractive stores and development on the site, he said. Zucker and aldermen objected to what the mayor called the “industrial warehouse look” of the store building in drawings originally submitted by Walmart. Walmart is expected to present plans that are different from standard neighborhood grocery stores around the county.
Zucker noted that the city’s sales and property tax revenue are sufficient now to pay for city services. But in time, the city may need more money. In 10 years, for example, many city streets will need repairs, Zucker said.
“When that time comes, we must have a much more robust source of revenue,” Zucker states. Without sales tax, the city may face “tripling or quadrupling real estate property taxes [requiring voter approval]” or letting streets, sidewalks and storm sewers fall into disrepair.
The development of the store and the overall 86.5-acre tract has drawn a sharp response from O’Fallon city officials. O’Fallon controls right of way access off Bryan Road. O’Fallon officials have also sought an overall traffic study for the entire tract.
Zucker said all his city can do is take care of its business, and make sure its requirements are met by the developer.