Home >> News >> St. Peters Planning and Zoning recommends denial of rezoning for ‘Dallavalle Tract’

St. Peters Planning and Zoning recommends denial of rezoning for ‘Dallavalle Tract’

On May 6, the St. Peters Planning & Zoning Commission [P&Z] considered proposed rezoning of 9.09 acres of land at 724 Spencer Road.

The property, which is shown as 9.15 acres on Zillow.com, Realtor.com and Refin.com, is known as “the Dallavalle Tract” due to ownership by the Robert F. Dallavalle Trust. It is the last remaining piece of a large family farm that was sold during the past four decades to create several subdivisions along Spencer Road. 

Its current zoning is A-1 Agricultural. Luetkenhaus Properties has requested rezoning to Planned Urban Development [PUD], in order to build a proposed development, Park Place Townhomes, with 49 units on a single cul-de-sac. The townhomes would occupy eight buildings with four, six or eight units per building. Each unit will have a 2-car garage and a 2-car driveway.  Some garages will be front-entry; others will be tuck-under garages in the back of the units. Each unit will be sold individually by Kemp Homes, with its own separate lot recorded. 

Park Place Townhomes development layout [from Luetkenhaus Properties]

After a half-hour of developer presentations and an hour of negative comments made by 14 citizens, P&Z voted 5-4 to send the rezoning request to the Board of Aldermen with a recommendation of denial. A greater number of citizens were present at the meeting but did not speak. 

Voting to recommend denial were commission members Keith McNames, Lori Tainter, Steven Bailey, Gary Westhoff and Pat Kelley.  Voting to effectively recommend approval were commission members Steve Snarzyk, Larry Sachse, Joseph Markus and [Ward 3 Alderman] Terri Violet.  Commission members Bill Yoffie and Janet Shetterly were absent.

Via voice vote, the commission then voted to postpone discussion about the proposed Park Place Townhomes site plan until after knowing the result the aldermanic vote on the rezoning request. The aldermen meet next at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 28; the agenda for that meeting has not yet been published.

Residents who spoke said they were not against development of the land at 724 Spencer Road. In fact, they said they expected and welcomed it. What they said they opposed was having 49 high-density townhomes packed into about half of the 9.09-acre tract [5.1 acres or 56% of the land is unusable due to a storm drainage creek], and the incongruity of building dense, urban-style townhomes compared to the non-dense single-family homes and villas in surrounding subdivisions including Carrington Place, Penny Lane and Shadow Creek. As a comparison, Penny Lane has 104 units on 22.56 acres, or 4.6 units per acre. Subtracting the creek unbuildable area, Park Place would be 49 units on about 5.5 acres, or 8.9 units per acre.

Southern third of 724 Spencer Rd. [John Tremmel photo]

At the commission’s request, developer Bill Luetkenhaus, of Luetkenhaus Properties, presented the detailed site plan as background for the rezoning decision. He emphasized that everything in the proposed town home site plan will meet city code.

Acknowledging the concerns of nearby residents who had signed a petition against the development, Luetkenhaus said: “I had scheduled a discussion meeting to address concerns with residents.  Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the library where the meeting was to be held had been closed, and no other venues were available for a group meeting.  So, I was unable to meet with the residents as a group.”

“A lot of the resident concerns expressed in the petition have been addressed in the site plan,” he added.

Luetkenhaus said he met with city staff and the city’s consulting architect and made changes to the plans to accommodate what they suggested. To address residents’ property value concerns, he described a study he had done by Bader, a professional appraisal company, and said that “based on assessed values, surrounding homes and villas in Carrington Place, Shadow Creek, and Penny Lane average about $185,000, and the proposed townhouses will start at $230,000, or about $50,000 above the surrounding homes.”  He said city staff also had looked at seven multi-family developments in St. Peters that backed to single-family homes. In those instances, Luetkenhaus said the city found that “the single-family home values had gone up.”

Other resident concerns that Luetkenhaus said are covered in the site plan, include:

  • 56% of the overall development will be green space.
  • Street lights will have shields around them to avoid casting off of light.
  • Four parking spaces will be available for each unit; two in the garage, two in the driveway.
  • Stormwater retention provisions will be per city code.
  • Traffic studies indicate a current volume of 15,000 car trips per day on Spencer Road. An uptick in traffic as a result of the development would equate to 22-27 additional car trips per hour on the road with no problem anticipated.

Luetkenhaus said he was distressed to see an inference in the petition that described him as a “local lobbyist” who was hired to “grease the wheels” and get this approved. He clarified, “I am not a lobbyist, not an attorney, and since retiring from the state legislature I have operated a real estate and development business.”

Following Luetkenhaus, Dale Bax, of Bax Engineering, described the site in question as “9.09 acres, including a single-family homestead, with a mix of grass fields and woodlands sloping down to a drainage creek.” He said the site plan will not disturb the creek bank setup.

Storm water creek bed at back of 724 Spencer Rd. [John Tremmel photo]

“The buildings [on the site] include an uninhabited two-story brick home in disrepair, with many code violations; a wood barn; a woodshed; a metal shed and a concrete in-ground pool that the family had filled in years ago,” Bax said.

In answer to a later question by P&Z chair Keith McNames, Luetkenhaus stated that the house is not on any historical U.S., state, or county register.  “And, we had the house inspected,” he said. “It has termite damage, mold issues, asbestos and many code violations.” At the request of McNames, Luetkenhaus agreed to check with the St. Charles County Historical Society to ask if they are aware of any historical significance for the house. 

Regarding the property, Bax said, “Trees currently occupy 3.67 acres. The city requires us to keep 50% of the trees, or 1.83 acres. We plan to keep 2.36 acres of trees, or 65%, and we plan to plant 25 additional trees to further beautify the property.”

Front of house at 724 Spencer Road. [John Tremmel photo]
Right side and back of 724 Spencer Road. [John Tremmel photo]

Bax further described the development’s proposed layout as having entrance off Spencer Road opposite the Heather Drive entrance to the Penny Lane subdivision. 

“The new street will be 930 feet ending in a school-district-approved cul-de-sac, where school buses will be able to turn around. There will be a 10-foot-wide green belt along Spencer Road for the length of the property, with a white vinyl fence,” Bax said.

According to Bax, an existing sewer line to the city’s service will be used.

Front rendering [from Luetkenhaus Properties]
Rendering rear view example [from Luetkenhaus Properties]

During the public hearing, Louise Noeth-Lanigan spoke, representing the 127 signers of an opposition petition from 84 units [80.1% of the 104 units] in the Penny Lane subdivision. 

“Know that we trust that city staff and elected officials to be sensitive to needless disruption of our congenial daily living by allowing what amounts to generous paydays for the landowners and developers who will depart pockets full, leaving behind residents with a distasteful urban carbuncle of ill-placed structures that are no more visually pleasant [sic] than a cheap B-movie prop,” Lanigan said. “The high density of proposed buildings and the style does not fit in with surrounding neighborhoods. Penny Lane has been a great success for the area and the Dallavalle Tract development should complement Penny Lane architecture.” 

Lanigan said she does not accept the density claims made by Luetkenhaus.

“He relies on the full 9 acres instead of the 5.5 acres actually being developed,” she said. Several other speakers echoed those same points.

According to Lanigan, “Many of the written comments expressed concern that homes could be rented out with consequent adverse impacts to adjacent neighborhoods. Luetkenhaus stated there were no caps on rentals being proposed. This portends a significant future problem for the adjacent neighborhoods.”

Luetkenhaus said Kemp Homes intends to sell the homes not rent them thus there would be no rental caps.

Speakers also expressed concerns about existing creek problems.  They noted that Luetkenhaus explained that neither the owners of the tract of land nor his clients were interested in paying for creek improvements.  Instead, the developer will donate the land to the city, to avoid the city needing to purchase the creek easement in the future. Speakers believe this will remain a continuing problem, saying the city engineer had noted that there is no funding available for the creek improvement or maintenance.

In an interview on May 8, Lanigan said she believed the density stats were set up in favor of the developer and to the detriment of the existing homeowners. She also expressed concern about where trash cans would be stored and worried that dumpsters might be used. She also said she feared that “decibel levels would be terrible for [air conditioner units on back decks] and much of their noise would carry down to Carrington Place and Shadow Creek.”

Lanigan also was concerned that Luetkenhaus “paid for a study that used assessed value for the comparison of home values, not market value or appraised value.”

“Who would use assessed value for property values to do comparables? No one,” she said, answering her own question. She said the last 18 months of sales around Penny Lane averaged in the $248,000 range, with some up to $350,000. “That means Park Place Townhomes starting at $230,000 would not be more than surrounding homes.”

Lanigan said, “Residents from all of the affected subdivisions were shocked that Alderman Terri Violet had voted to ignore every reasonable constituent concern and support the site plan as submitted. When pointedly asked about her vote by several homeowners after the meeting she explained that she was satisfied that Mr. Luetkenhaus had cleared every concern on the Penny Lane petition signed by 127 homeowners and she could see no reason why the development should not proceed exactly as proposed.

Armed with the negative recommendation from P&Z, area residents opposed to the development are hoping Violet’s aldermanic colleagues will see the development from their point of view.

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