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Controversial high-density rental development approved

After three years of revised development plans, opposition petitions, Planning & Zoning debates, vote postponements and dozens of citizen comments at many council meetings, a high-density rental development was approved by one vote at the O’Fallon City Council meeting on April 23.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic emergency safety measures mandated by the state and county, the council met via internet from separate locations.

O’Fallon City Council Meeting April 23 via remote access [screen shot of O’Fallon TV]

Council members Jeff Kuehn [Ward 4], Rose Mack [Ward 2], Mike Pheney [Ward 5], Tom “Duke” Herweck [Ward 2] and Debbie Cook [Ward 5] voted against the Fairways at Turtle Creek development. Council members Dave Hinman [Ward 1], Deana Smith [Ward 1], Dale Kling [Ward 3], Nathan Bibb [Ward 3] and Dr. Jim Ottomeyer [Ward 4] voted for it. 

The 5-5 tie was broken by Mayor Bill Hennessy, with the bill [No. 7177.2] passing on a vote of 6-5.

Had the Covid-19 pandemic not caused postponing of the April 7 Municipal Election to June 2, council members up for reelection might or might not have been in office for the vote on this bill. Seats up for vote on June 2 are currently held by Hinman, Bibb, Kuehn and Pheney. Mack’s Ward 2 seat also is open though Mack is not running for reelection.

As background to the vote, citizen comments sent prior to the meeting via 10 emails included two that asked to postpone the vote, three opposing the bill, four supporting the bill, and one  email that mentioned the bill but did not indicate support or opposition.  Several council members spoke briefly, some in support of the bill, some in opposition and some seeking to postpone the vote again.  A motion to postpone the bill was defeated.

Original Bill No. 7177 had been revised into Bill 7177.1 and 7177.2 in order to include specific items to address nearby resident concerns and objections. 

Fairways at Turtle Creek rendering

The revised bill includes stipulations that all dwelling units will have a two-car garage, and a stone façade will be added to the front elevation of each dwelling.  In addition, there are separate documents and agreements to clarify key items for the development, including commitments for how trash collection will be handled, and a commitment for the commercial area of the property to have a 2,600-square-foot clubhouse and a pool for resident use. 

Current zoning for the overall property allows this development, so no rezoning was needed.

The development will be on the south side of Mexico Road, currently the site of a golf driving range, mini-golf course and batting cages.

Fairways at Turtle Creek density

The residential area will include 128 rental units across 14.65 acres, for a density of 8.74 units per acre. The units will be a mixture of attached and detached single-family homes. A private drive aisle with full access to Mexico Road will be included, along with private alleys marked for one-way and two-way traffic within the development. Amenities will include a Pet Park, Tot Lots, a bocce ball court and fire pits.

The existing mini-golf course will remain, but the existing batting cages will be removed. The remaining non-residential 9.04 acres will be left for the mini-golf course, the clubhouse, and pool. There still will be some amount of land left in the commercially zoned portion for future retail and/or other commercial use; it is not clear from the area plan how much, and at this point there are no specific plans for this remaining area. 

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