The land’s owner, the Flavan, John M. Revocable Trust of Shawnee, Kansas, has requested rezoning of the property from C-3/Highway Commercial to R-3/PUD Garden Apartments and Condos District Planned Unit Development. Additionally, approval of an area plan for the 21.736-acre tract of undeveloped land was sought.
At the Sept. 12 meeting, former State Rep. Bill Leutkenhaus, of Leutkenhaus Properties in O’Fallon; Dale Bax, of Bax Engineering; and several supporting experts presented the rezoning request and area plan proposal on behalf of residential developer Kemp Homes. O’Fallon’s Planning & Zoning Commission [P&Z] previously had forwarded to the council a recommendation of denial for the rezoning request and area plan.
The proposed area plan includes 69 single-family residential lots that range in size from 6,210 square feet to 15,455 square feet [.143 acre to .354 acre]. The proposed development would be named Columbia Meadows.
P&Z had clarified that the applicant requested R-3/PUD in order to vary from the single-family residential lot development requirements within the current code. The development would be a luxury villa community with many amenities, including lawn and landscape maintenance provided by its homeowners association.
About 50 O’Fallon residents were in the audience. Four homeowners living near the Flavan Tract spoke in opposition to the proposed rezoning. No homeowners spoke in favor.
Homeowner Les Blalock noted that the rezoning was discussed at the Sept. 5 P&Z meeting and that the commission overwhelmingly voted for denial. He said the council should listen to them because this type of rezoning “would set a dangerous precedent.” Blalock clarified that he believes the builder Kemp Homes is reputable and the development appears attractive, but it is just in the wrong place.
He said O’Fallon needs to keep this land as commercial as was originally defined in the city’s Comprehensive Plan and Land Use Plan, which was revalidated 48 months ago and which the city staff still recommends today. Doing so, Blalock said will help O’Fallon create jobs. He said he also fears that breaking apart the larger Flavan Tract into pieces would leave land less attractive for large commercial developers.
Blalock also said discussions about proposals for this land had been going on for eight months.
Homeowner John Calahan said he agreed with Blalock’s comments and also suggested the council should listen to the P&Z recommendation.
Robert Shields, of Magnolia Valley Drive, said he is opposed to the rezoning because the Flavan Tract land is “unsafe for residential.” He believes the increase in traffic would be dangerous for White Magnolia Drive and for Bryan Road due to already having extremely high volumes of cars on Bryan. He said he also believes that increased water runoff would cause problems for surrounding, existing homes. Shields said regardless of what the developer keeps saying, he does not believe retail or commercial is dead and he cited the example of the corner of Manchester and Clarkson roads in West St. Louis County as an example.
Asked by the council to comment, O’Fallon’s Economic Development Director Patrick McKeehan said: “This still is a good, viable site for commercial development. O’Fallon’s retail space is around 96% occupied, so there is demand for more retail in appropriate places. Along the I-70 corridor, Wentzville is planning about 140,000 square feet of new commercial space, and St. Peters recently opened about 270,000 square feet in new retail. In my opinion, the I-70 corridor, including the Flavan Tract near the Bryan Road interchange, is well positioned for new commercial development.”
P&Z had listed 18 reasons for its recommendation of denial, including:
- The property is the third largest available site zoned commercial in O’Fallon. Given the limited options for large, contiguous commercial properties, this rezoning to R-3 would reduce the city’s ability to attract large scale commercial development.
- This location is attractive to large commercial developers because it is the only remaining large property adjacent to I-70.
- This property has been designated for commercial purposes since 1996 and since the construction of the Bryan Road interchange.
- The city has previously denied rezoning of commercial properties to residential along Bryan Road.
- In February 1991, O’Fallon Ordinance No. 1889 authorized a consent agreement between the property owner and the city for the annexation of the subject property. As part of that agreement, the property was to be zoned either C-2 or C-3 commercial.