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Lake Saint Louis delays vote on controversial Garden Center expansion

Lake Saint Louis officials delayed a final decision on a special use permit the would allow changes at the Lake St. Louis Garden Center opposed by nearby residents worried about its impact on their homes and quality of life.

The city’s Board of Aldermen opted, on May 15, to table the resolution until its June 19 meeting to allow all six aldermen to vote. Alderman Gary Turner [Ward 1] was absent on May 15 and had asked for the vote to be tabled. The board also delayed voting on the resolution in January and March.

About 30 residents of the Waterford Villas subdivision, which is adjacent to the center at 3230 Technology Drive, attended the May 15 meeting. About a dozen of those residents spoke against granting the permit sought by Richard Kopp, owner of the garden center, which would allow 16 storage bins for road salt and other materials that would be piled at least 12 feet high.

Kopp bought the property in 2015. In January, he said he needed the additional storage to compete with Lowe’s and Home Depot but that there would be limited truck traffic and disturbance to the subdivisions.

Residents said that changes allowed by the permit would be more appropriate for a property zoned highway-commercial or light industrial rather than its present commercial zoning. They also worried that the changes might impact their property values.

Kim Pfalz said a fence separates the center from her backyard. She and other residents complained about pools of stagnant water, mold on buildings, tractor trails near the fence, noise from loading and unloading materials, large and high piles of materials and “tarps, tarps and tarps” scattered around.

“In my opinion, it looks worse now than when he [Kopp] purchased the property,” Pfalz said.

Maxine Salarano complained about the noise and activity on the site. She said businesses should meet the same city requirements as residents who pay taxes.

“We didn’t sign up for a supply depot, we were willing to live with the garden center because that’s what Lake Saint Louis is – it’s the garden city between Wentzville and O’Fallon,” Salarano said. “It’s a beautiful place and then we have to put up with this.”

Tom Young asked, “What kind of city moves in industrial activity next to residential zoning right after the homes are built?”

The board mostly listened and agreed to table a vote on the resolution until at least June – a decision that didn’t please some subdivision residents, prompting one to walk out of the meeting.

Kopp was not at the meeting to address the residents concerns. In January, Mayor Karen Schweikert said Kopp appeared to be responsive to residents. But at the May 15 meeting, she said she had concerns about whether there were city code violations on the property.

“This is me speaking but I have a hard time when somebody says they’re wanting to be a good neighbor and work with us but they haven’t corrected some of the code issues that have been there for a while,” Schweikert said. “It just makes me wonder, ‘OK, you’re trying to get something through but once you’ve come in, what’s going to happen if there are issues outstanding.’” Her comments drew applause.

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