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St. Peters aldermen approve special use permit, allowing a hotel opposed by nearby residents

A proposed four-story hotel opposed by St. Peters residents in a nearby subdivision that has come before the city several times was finally approved by the city’s Board of Aldermen.

The board voted 6-2 at their May 25 meeting to approve a special use permit allowing a proposed 81-room Holiday Inn Express and Suites to be built on a vacant 3.5-acre lot near Interstate 70. The applicant is HIE of St. Peters LLC.

The property is zoned commercial and is on the southwest corner of Veterans Memorial Parkway and Richmond Center Boulevard. City officials said a special use permit was needed to place a hotel there.

The journey toward the Holiday Inn Express and Suites has been rocky, opposed by nearby Richmond subdivision residents.

In 2009, the city approved allowing a hotel on the site but it was never built and the permit lapsed.

The hotel came before city officials last year as an extended-stay facility but was withdrawn and then resubmitted earlier this year. A board vote in favor in February failed to approve the permit. HIE of St. Peters resubmitted the permit request on March 31, which the board ultimately approved on May 25.

Subdivision residents said they worry the hotel would increase traffic in their subdivision, endanger their privacy, lower property values, become a center of crime and pose possible threats to neighborhood and area children.

They said the hotel also might endanger children who will use an early childhood center for the Fort Zumwalt School District across Richmond Center Drive. The new center utilizes an old Sanford Brown training center building and is expected to open this fall.

That ongoing opposition continued through much of a three-hour board meeting on May 25, which featured comments from almost a dozen residents all opposing the granting of the permit.

“What is the point of a planning and zoning commission when you can’t abide with what the residents would like to have in their neighborhood?” asked Janice Duffner, a subdivision resident, who said she gathered more than 170 signatures on a petition opposing the hotel.

Duffner and other residents were skeptical of comments by Brad Goss, an attorney for HIE of St. Peters, who said the applicant has continued to modify the hotel proposal since last year.

Goss said a traffic study required by the city suggests the hotel will have a limited impact on traffic patterns. The hotel entrance and exit are being reconfigured to not allow hotel traffic to enter the subdivision to the south, Goss added.

He said the orientation of the four-story hotel building will now be perpendicular to I-70 and not parallel to the subdivision, so guests can’t look directly into the subdivision. Side windows facing the subdivision will be opaque so people can’t look out from them.

Goss added that children also cannot be seen entering the school from the hotel. He cited studies that suggest that child abuse incidents are less likely in places like hotels that have cameras to record activity and that require photo identification from customers.

The board’s 6-2 vote on May 25 marks the second vote this year on the permit. Both the city’s Ward 1 aldermen, Dave Thomas and Rocky Reitmeyer, voted against the permit.

Aldermen had voted 4-2 in favor of the permit at the Feb. 23 meeting but city officials said that measure failed because it needed five votes from the eight-member board to pass. Reitmeyer and Alderman Judy Bateman [Ward 2] were absent at the time of the vote.

The permit request was resubmitted on March 31 to the city’s planning and zoning commission, which, along with the city staff, recommended approval of a special use permit at their May 3 meeting. The recommendation then went again to aldermen for a decision.

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