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Dardenne Prairie clears the way for rehab facility, lauding cooperation between residents, developer

The Dardenne Prairie Board of Aldermen has given its OK to a rezoning from residential to commercial, a conditional use permit and a site plan that will clear the way for a once-controversial $8.5 million, 38-bed rehabilitation facility.

The facility rests on 5.19 acres near the Canvas Cove subdivision; city officials are saying it’s an example of cooperation between residents and developer that could be emulated by other cities.

The board voted 4-0 at its June 6 meeting to approve the conditional use permit for a surgical and elderly rehabilitation facility on property zoned general commercial district along with a site plan on the tract at 7275 Hwy. N at Monet Drive.

The permit and site plan had been reviewed and recommended by the city’s planning and zoning commission. Aldermen John Gotway and Dan Koch [both of Ward 3] were absent.

The board’s action is the latest chapter in the ongoing saga involving the rehab center that began in September 2016 when the St. Charles County Council voted to approve a conditional use permit to allow the rehabilitation facility on the property, which at the time was unincorporated. The tract was largely surrounded then by the city of Dardenne Prairie with the Canvas Cove subdivision to the north and west of it.

The proposed facility would primarily serve elderly patients in need of short-term physical therapy. The one-story, 38-unit facility would cater to patients staying two to three weeks. Subdivision residents were worried about the safety issues involving school children using buses, lowered property values and entrance into the subdivision if a Monet Drive entrance became a reality.

At the time, city officials told the subdivision that having the project on unincorporated land limited the city’s control because it was outside the city’s jurisdiction.

Ultimately city voters approved an involuntary annexation of the property in the November 2017 election. Sunterra Springs of O’Fallon, the owner of the property, requested a voluntary annexation of the property that the board accepted, which spared the city from further expenses to complete the involuntary annexation process in circuit court.

Subdivision residents were still worried at a public hearing in May about the impact of delivery trucks bringing food, medical supplies and for removing trash. At a continuation of the public hearing on June 6, Matt Fogarty, project manager at Premier Engineering, Architecture & Survey, LLC, presented a new drawing, reflecting changes to off-street and loading dock facilities, that limits the use of Monet Drive.

The board went along with the changes, with Mayor David Zucker noting that the city may adopt traffic regulations based on what happens in the future.

The board voted and Sunterra and Fogarty drew praise from Zucker and Mike Costlow, president of the Canvas Cove Homeowners Association.  “This has been a long journey,” Costlow said, thanking the city for its consideration of the issue. “It definitely could have been much worse. This plan looks very different. It’s much kinder to the neighbors. I believe [Sunterra has] tried to address all the concerns that have been brought forward. We wish this was something else – we would love to have the apple orchard back.”

Zucker congratulated the developer and nearby residents.  “I commend everybody who has addressed this issue,” Zucker said.  “I think you have done it in a professional way, in a respectable way, and set an example that other cities would do well to follow.”

Work could begin on the facility as early as this fall.

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