After years of controversy, plans and revised plans, resident opposition petitions, Planning & Zoning [P&Z] debates, and dozens of citizen comments at multiple council meetings, Bill No. 7177 to approve a high-density rental development named Fairways at Turtle Creek finally was set on the agenda for a second reading and final vote at the March 26 O’Fallon City Council meeting.
The bill was sponsored by council members Jeff Kuehn and Jim Ottomeyer, both of Ward 4.
Due to restrictions caused by the COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic, residents were given the opportunity to send citizen comments in advance via email in lieu of physically attending the meeting. For the topic of Fairways at Turtle Creek, six residents submitted comments to the council. Four stated outright opposition to the development. One said that O’Fallon will be in decline if the rental development is approved. One objected to having a meeting without the public present [regardless of having it available for livestreaming via O’Fallon TV and the option to send comments via email].
When that agenda item was called, Ottomeyer asked to lay-over the bill. Lay-over is a legal and legislative term meaning “postponed for one legislative day or meeting,” or “await attention at a later time.”
Per council procedures, one sponsor can invoke the lay-over, and no vote is needed. That postponed the second reading and vote on Bill No. 7177 until a future meeting. Ottomeyer said he wanted more time to go back to the residents to address their concerns.
Council member Dale Kling [Ward 3] suggested that Ottomeyer work with residents to create a finite list of specific questions and issues that can be addressed by the developer and the council, in order to get this development and the bill to a point where the council can vote for or against passage.
Otherwise, Kling said, the questions can go on forever. Kuehn also asked for the developer to show a complete plan for the entire property at 1301 Mexico Rd., not just the rental units. Ottomeyer agreed.
The parcel of land in question is on the south side of Mexico Road and is currently the site of a golf driving range, mini-golf course, and batting cages.
Contrary to prior development plan submissions, this time P&Z recommended approval, with added conditions.
The development now is to include 128 rental units across 14.65 acres, for a density of 8.74 units per acre. The units are to be a mixture of attached and detached single-family homes. A private drive aisle with full access to Mexico Road is to be included, along with private alleys marked for one-way and two-way traffic within the development. Amenities are to include a ‘Pet Park’, ‘Tot Lots’, a bocce ball court and fire pits.
The existing mini-golf course is to remain, but the existing batting cages are to be removed. The remaining non-residential 9.04 acres are to be left for the mini-golf course and for future commercial/retail use. Current zoning would permit this development, so no change is needed.