Residents of the Canvas Cove subdivision in Dardenne Prairie asked the St. Charles County Council on Sept. 12 for time to further research if a controversial rehabilitation facility will mean more traffic, devalue their homes or add to flooding issues.
The council is being asked to grant a conditional use permit that would allow a proposed 38-bed rehabilitation facility on an unincorporated 5.68-acre tract along Hwy. N at Monet Drive. The tract is surrounded by city boundaries with the subdivision to the north.
The county Planning and Zoning Commission voted 9-0 on Aug. 17 to recommend approval of the permit to the council, which makes the final decision. Councilmembers Mike Elam [District 3] and Joe Cronin [District 1] said they hoped that some compromise could be worked out. Cronin asked that the developer provide more detailed information to the council.
The property is currently zoned single-family, one-acre minimal lot size by the county. The property owner is HFS Revocable Trust. The facility would primarily serve elderly patients in need of short-term physical therapy. The one-story facility would cater to patients staying for two to three weeks.
At the Sept. 12 meeting, Michael Costlow, a spokesperson for residents, asked the council to allow the subdivision more time to research the issues that could impact them. The council also may receive a request for a delay from Dardenne Prairie officials. Mayor David Zucker told a group of residents at the Sept. 7 Board of Aldermen meeting that he may write a letter to the county asking for a delay, and that the board may pass a resolution on the issue prior the county’s Sept. 26 meeting.
But Zucker told aldermen and residents that since the property currently is not inside Dardenne Prairie, the city has no jurisdiction over it.
“I don’t know if there is a thing we can do to stop the project or even to influence the manner in which it [the CUP process] is carried out. Here’s the life lesson I want to share with the board,” Zucker said, noting a city zoning map on the wall of the aldermanic chambers. “You look at that map, you see white squares or white spots all over Dardenne Prairie,” he said. “That’s unincorporated St. Charles County, which means we have no jurisdiction as to building code or zoning uses.”
Zucker said he has asked City Attorney John Young to develop a “game plan” for undertaking as many of these annexations as possible.
“I’ll reach out to these property owners and invite voluntary annexations and, failing that, to proceed with involuntary annexations,” Zucker said.
There are at least 20 or more small parcels on the map. Several subdivisions surrounded by city boundaries may not be a “high priority” unless they voluntarily come into the city, Zucker said. Involuntary annexations require the city to file suit to obtain a circuit court judgement to place them on a ballot for approval by voters.
The annexation issue comes at a time when the city is set to finally embark on revising portions of the city’s comprehensive plan that govern zoning, particularly within the city’s Uptown Zoning District.
The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission began discussing revisions of the comprehensive plan on Sept. 14. The plan serves as a guide for future land use, spelling out possible zoning in specific portions of the city, and setting policy on issues such as housing, parks and flood-prone areas. Of particular interest is evaluating the city’s Uptown Zoning District, which is included in the comprehensive plan. Public hearings are expected to be held on proposed changes, which have to be adopted by the Board of Aldermen to become law.
The Uptown Zoning District was adopted in 2007 a way to provide the town with a civic “core” – a kind of mixed-use area that includes a downtown. However, the district has not been a draw for development and last year the city considered enacting a moratorium on new development in the district until it decided whether it wanted to revise its parameters. The district includes areas along Interstate 64, Hwy. 364 and Feise Road.
The revisions also may look at the “town square” area of the city, particularly business parcels south of Hwy. N and west of Keystone Crossing, and along Technology Drive, with the view of taking them out of the Uptown Zoning District and rezoning them as commercial, Zucker said.
Another possible change may involve rezoning a small bit of property north of Feise Road, which was designated for high density housing, to a more open residential zoning.
“There is no point in holding out [for] this illusion of converting Feise into a dense multi-story set of apartments or roadhouses,” Zucker said.
Regarding the rehabilitation center, the county council took no final action on the CUP, but could come back for a final decision at its Sept. 26 meeting.