In a surprise move, the St. Charles County Council voted to table a final vote on the proposal to develop a new residential subdivision overlooking the Katy Trail, the controversial Missouri Bluffs plan.
This proposed development has been a flashpoint of contention since the introduction of the plan in 2017, as environmental groups have opposed the project, due to concern for the area ecosystem, local residents have worried about growth and congestion, and hikers and bikers who use the Katy Trail worry that building in the region will upset their enjoyment and experience.
The project has slowly wended its way through the thickets of county politics and bureaucracy, having been revised, amended and changed in form numerous times. The original plan proposed by NT Builders and Greg Whittaker, called for 315 single-family, and 120 multi-family units, but has now been reconfigured to consist of 161 single-family homes, and as many as 60 attached villas, on a 386.52-acre expanse of land, currently owned by the University of Missouri and located south of the Missouri Research Park, west of Interstate 64 and north of the Missouri River. The plan also calls for setting aside 47.43 acres as park land and for expanding non-disturbance easements in surrounding areas.
In the preliminary consideration of the plan, the County Planning & Zoning board twice declined to endorse the plan. The full County Council, however, which has final authority in these issues, decided to proceed with the matter, and introduced Bill No. 4748, which would have given final approval to the Missouri Bluffs plan, at the council meeting of Aug. 12. Action on that bill was delayed until the meeting of Aug. 26.
At the Aug. 26 council meeting, supporters and opponents of the plan filled the meeting room and let their allegiances be known.
Donna Hart, a resident of the area characterized the plan as a struggle of “aesthetics vs. development” and expressed her desire that aesthetics would carry the day. County resident Ed Shew warned of the dangers of unrestrained growth and said the council should “preserve and not destroy.” John Hickey, a resident of St. Louis County but a self-described regular visitor to the area and a hiker of the Katy Trail, said that the situation seemed to be a case of the County Council succumbing to the lure of easy money in approving the project.
Supporters of the project argued that the entire plan was consistent with the needs of the community as Doug Tieman, a civil engineer by trade who had worked on the subdivision plans, argued that the development was minimally invasive and pointed out that the proposal would involve less than 8% of the available land.
Brad Goss, an attorney for NT Builders, stated that there existed much more support for the plan than was generally acknowledged. While addressing the council members, Goss asked supporters of the project to rise from their seats in a show of support for the development. A quick head count showed that 19 spectators rose in support of the project.
When the meeting proceeded to the business of taking up Bill No. 4748 for final passage, council member Joe Cronin [Ward 1] stunned the assemblage when he introduced the measure to table the bill indefinitely, thereby delaying the vote for an indefinite period of time. Cronin said the council needed more time fully consider the plan and all of the issues involved.
“We think we need a little more time to debate and look at all of the issues involved in this project,” he said.
His motion was seconded and approved unanimously. After the council announced the killing of the measure, the majority of spectators immediately left the meeting.
There is no timetable to resume discussion of the matter.