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Dardenne Prairie moves away from Uptown Zoning District

A plan once viewed as the future of Dardenne Prairie is now receding into the past and the city’s immediate future may include new property brought into the city.

The Board of Aldermen tinkered with the city code at its Nov. 16 meeting, adopting a new zoning classification – C-3 retail commercial development – to encourage new retail development and provide new sales tax revenue.

The board also approved rezoning to C-3 a portion of the city’s Uptown Zoning District that includes the Town Square Shopping Center, parcels across from the center on the south side of Hwy. 364 and parcels along Technology Drive. The rezoning eliminates the Uptown Zoning District requirement for mixed use, multi-family buildings.

In a separate ordinance, the board rezoned parcels along Feise Road from the Pinnacle Point subdivision west to Dardenne Landing subdivision to R-1A single family residential. The Uptown Zoning District called for mixed use, multi-family buildings and single-family homes on smaller lots.

What the city did was dismantle an idea that officials say isn’t working. Not long ago, city officials in the fast-growing community latched onto the idea of a community with a civic “core”—a mixed-use area with a sort of downtown that included small retail stores, apartments and condominiums. Adopted in 2007, this “Uptown Zoning District” was part of its comprehensive plan, which serves as a guide to future land use and sets policy on issues involving housing, parks and flood-prone areas. The district includes areas along Interstate 64, Hwy. 364 and Feise Road.

Development never happened and a new mayor offered little enthusiasm about the district. Now that district may go away as part of a revised overall comprehensive plan and other changes may happen in the Uptown Zoning District in 2017.

“It’s (the uptown district) not working,” said Mayor David Zucker in September as public hearings began on the rezoning changes before the city’s planning and zoning commission. Zucker criticized the uptown district after succeeding former Mayor Pam Fogarty, who resigned in 2015. “I just want to take the property out of the uptown district and let the market come in and make sense of it,” he said.

Changes involving city boundaries also may be in the offing in 2017. The board adopted five resolutions at its Nov. 16 expressing the city’s intent to annex five parcels of unincorporated land as a first step to annex some of as many as 20 or so small unincorporated parcels. The city must adopt an ordinance to seek involuntary annexations that require a declaratory judgment from a circuit judge before they can be placed on the April ballot. A majority vote of city residents and a majority vote of registered voters who are residents of the parcels to be annexed are required for the annexations to be approved. Zucker said city officials have reached out to some property owners to obtain voluntary annexations and failing that, may proceed with involuntary annexations.

Two of the five properties – the Gilmer tracts – are sizeable. “Gilmer 1” is about 11 acres and located at the intersection of Highway N and Bryan Road, and “Gilmer 2” is about 10 acres on the north side of Highway 364 at Bryan Road. The three other parcels are along Technology Drive near an old Phillips 66 gas station and a used car lot.

The annexation issue came to the fore earlier this year when the St. Charles County Commission approved a conditional use permit to allow a 38-bed rehabilitation facility on an unincorporated 5.68-acre tract along Highway N and Monet Drive. The tract is largely surrounded by city boundaries.

Zucker and aldermen told residents of the adjacent Canvas Cove subdivision on Sept. 7 that the city has little control over development of the property because it is not withing city boundaries. The city then moved toward identifying small unincorporated parcels to annex.

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