On Oct. 10, O’Fallon’s City Council and Mayor Jim Hennessy narrowly approved the developer’s rezoning and area plan, with new conditions and in spite of, but considering, P&Z concerns and nearby residents’ objections.
The rezoning of the land located near the intersection of Bryan Road and Veterans Memorial Parkway has been under intense scrutiny, debate and discussion for the past nine months.
As previously reported by Mid Rivers Newsmagazine [Rezoning proposes residential use for ‘Flavan Tract’], the owner had applied to rezone 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 had been sought to include up to 69 single-family lots, on which to build luxury villas. P&Z had forwarded to the council a recommendation of denial based on 18 reasons. Numerous area residents also had spoken in opposition to the rezoning at P&Z and council meetings.
About 40 residents were in the audience at the Oct. 10 council meeting, nine of whom spoke passionately in opposition to the bill.
Bill Luetkenhaus, of Luetkenhaus Properties Inc. and on behalf of Kemp Homes and Bax Engineering, spoke in favor of the bill, saying he had listened to the residents’ concerns.
Much to the surprise of the audience, a revised bill was to be voted on instead of the version included in the agenda packet for the council meeting, which also had been published on the city’s website and not changed since Friday, Oct. 4. Shortly before this council meeting, a hard-copy list of conditions to be added to the bill was given to the council. Those conditions were written to address concerns council members had raised at and after their Sept. 26 work session.
No one in the audience had seen or heard about the new conditions list or the amendment to the bill. Council member Jeff Kuehn [Ward 4] suggested that someone read the conditions out loud so that everyone in the audience could understand what was to be voted on. That suggestion received loud applause from the audience.
Council member Dave Hinman [Ward 1] read aloud the conditions as:
- A traffic light is to be installed on Bryan Road at the Justice Center. Kemp Homes will contribute $500 per home [$500 x 69 villas = $34,500] to mitigate traffic generation, same as was done for two other subdivisions.
- The development must be in compliance with all city codes.
- The property project must successfully become a certified wildlife habitat and be properly identified as such with authorized and appropriate signage at the entrances and other appropriate locations throughout the property.
- An easement for off-site grading will be required and agreed upon with city staff.
- The developer will provide an updated correspondence with the Army Corps of Engineers in regard to jurisdictional waterways and wetlands.
- The developer shall work with the city of O’Fallon’s economic development staff to attract commercial businesses for the remaining commercial lots.
- Rear yard setback of all perimeter lots shall match the underlying setback for the zoning district per code section 400.236.6.
- The “provisional” wording is to be removed from the previous draft version, and the bill no longer must be remanded to P&Z.
As the new conditions were read, the council chamber audience became more on edge and vocal.The council then voted by roll call on the amendment to add the conditions. Voting “yes” for the amendment were council members Dale Kling [Ward 3], Dave Hinman [Ward 1], Dr. Jim Ottomeyer [Ward 4], Deana Smith [Ward 1] and Nathan Bibb [Ward 3]. Voting “no” were council members Tom “Duke” Herweck [Ward 2], Mike Pheney [Ward 5], Debbie Cook [Ward 5], Jeff Kuehn [Ward 4] and Rose Mack [Ward 2]. Hennessy then broke the 5-5 tie by voting “yes.”
Several council members took time to explain the reasoning behind their votes, which fell into two general categories. Those opposed to the bill said they wanted to listen to the citizens in opposition and protect commercially zoned property for commercial use. Those in favor of the amended bill generally said they believed a successful city future must include more mixed-use development with residential mixed with commercial. They further said that they had listened to citizens by applying the conditions and that they felt the amended bill was a good compromise.
The council next voted by roll call on the amended bill, which included the rezoning from C-3 to R-3, the area plan with the 69 luxury villas and the added conditions. The voting results were the same as for the amendment: a 5-5 tie broken by Hennessy voting “yes.”
After the vote, the roughly 40 audience members stood and left the chamber, noisily grumbling, with a few of them stating fairly loudly, “Vote them all out.”