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Proposed rezoning of Lombardo Homes land generates controversy

Back in February, the city of O’Fallon received an application for voluntary annexation of home builder Lombardo Homes’ soon-to-be-built new 116.618-acre subdivision named Amberleigh, generally located at 1370 Diehr Road in a currently unincorporated part of St. Charles County. 

After recommended approval by city staff, a bill to grant this voluntary annexation [Bill No. 7176], sponsored by Ward 3 council members Dale Kling and Nathan Bibb, was placed on the March 12 Council meeting for a second reading and vote for final passage. 

However, per a motion from Bibb, the bill was tabled until the March 27 meeting.

At the same meeting on March 12, Kling and Bibb sponsored Bill No. 7178, a bill to rezone that annexed land from R-1/Single Family Residential District to R-3/Gardens Apartments and Condos District. The O’Fallon Planning and Zoning Commission [P&Z] had recommended denial of this request. The bill was given a public hearing and a first reading. 

Per the P&Z report, R-1 zoning has a minimum lot size of 10,000 square feet, and R-3 zoning has a minimum of 7,500 square feet. 

Lombardo Homes has proposed 175 single-family lots for this property, using the smaller lot sizes for the single-family homes.

In response to the proposed lot sizes, a total of 171 residents in subdivisions and homes located near the proposed Amberleigh property have signed and submitted petitions in opposition to the rezoning. About 25 of those attended the March 12 meeting, six of whom spoke in opposition to the bill before the council. 

Speakers cited concerns like a major risk in property value loss due to smaller lots and smaller homes not fitting in with the character and size of surrounding homes and subdivisions already present. Existing homes currently have a minimum lot size of 10,000 square feet, with some spanning 1 to 3 acres, with home values estimated between $500,000 to $1 million. 

Speakers cited concerns about Diehr Road being too narrow and unsafe for more traffic from so many new, smaller homes. They also cited concerns about the ability of the local Wentzville School District schools being able to support the potential influx of students.

If the usual process is followed, second reading and vote for passage of Bill No. 7178 would be at the March 26 council meeting. 

However, if Bill No. 7176 for voluntary annexation is not passed first, the city of O’Fallon would not have the authority to rezone the property due to the fact that it would still be under unincorporated St. Charles County jurisdiction.

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