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Dardenne Prairie plan seeks strategic economic development

On Sept. 9, the Dardenne Prairie Planning & Zoning Commission discussed the latest rendition of the city’s Comprehensive Plan. At that same meeting, a public hearing was also held to gauge feedback from city officials and residents.

This latest version of the plan established the city’s priorities moving into 2020 and beyond, and according to Mayor David Zucker, there were multiple reasons why the city sought to update the plan. The first and foremost was the experience that the city had with its Uptown Zoning District, which was adopted in 2007, and the architectural hindrances it put on some city areas.

“When I took over as mayor in 2015, I surveyed the parts of the city that were then zoned for the Uptown District and found that the only developments that had occurred in the proceeding eight years were the St. William senior apartments and the city hall,” Zucker said. “No commercial development of any kind or residential development of any kind was made in the Uptown Zoning District, and in discussion with staff and with people in the community, it became apparent … that the Uptown Zoning Project idea was inappropriate for Dardenne Prairie.”

The plan’s last update in 2014 envisioned more commercial development along Feise Road and Hwy. N, but due to the completion of Route 364 around that same time, a drop in the daily traffic count stalled anticipated commercial development. The 2020 Comprehensive Plan factors in land use possibilities while accounting for major roads like Bryan Road, Feise Road and Technology Drive.

“That’s the major change between the 2014 and 2020 version,” Zucker said.
The significant reduction of the Uptown Zoning District also raised questions of how city would envision land use moving forward. According to Zucker, one of the ways the city has tried to stay consistent in its zoning is by annexing parcels of previously unincorporated land that were still included in Dardenne Prairie’s geographical boundaries. The city has incorporated all but one parcel along Feise Road, and has rezoned that area to residential. The Town Square Shopping Center was also rezoned from uptown to commercial in an endeavor to reduce the architectural restrictions imposed by the Uptown District.

“We hope that will encourage investment and expansion,” Zucker said.
The 2020 plan stated that these annexations should continue. The new plan also highlighted multiple studies regarding the frontage roadway improvements along I-64 that will affect Technology Drive and adjacent properties. For example, it cited a need to improve local access to and from I-64 and Route 364. O’Fallon and Dardenne Prairie are currently conducting a study of the I-64 corridor between Route 364 and WingHaven Boulevard/Hwy. DD to improve local access to the Technology Drive corridor and the southwest side of I-64. The comprehensive plan also mentioned that the city is pursuing a plan to build an interchange for Route 364 at Technology Drive to provide full highway access for eastbound and westbound traffic and direct access to the Dardenne Town Square shopping center. The improved access at Technology Drive would also provide direct access to the existing St. Charles County Youth Activity Park, which according to Zucker, has seen an increase in recognition since the installation of its BMX pump track in summer 2020.

“Until that was built, the nearest pump track was in Bentonville, Arkansas, and enthusiasts would drive hundreds of miles to use that facility,” Zucker said. “Those folks don’t have to drive to Bentonville anymore. They can come here.”

The plan also discusses another ongoing recreational project within the city to enlarge and modernize the ballfields next to city hall, which been ongoing for five years and is now a 2.8 million project on 6.5 acres.

“The city bought two acres and had four and a half acres donated to us, so that was a good break,” Zucker said. The project involves refurbishing two fields while adding pickleball courts and restrooms. The parking lot will also be enlarged and paved.

“Our City Hall Park is one of the most heavily patronized parks in the county,” Zucker said. “The (Dardenne Prairie) Athletic Complex will complement it.”

Following discussions on Sept. 9, some aspects of the 2020 plan were updated with suggestions, particularly in the realm of zoning and land use.

For example, along Route 364 near the Bryan Road intersection, there are two parcels that are undeveloped, on to the north and one to the south. The 2020 plan was updated with the suggestion that they be rezoned commercial with a residential overlay.

“What that means is there intended to be commercial, but it may be that a development of a mixed-use sort, where there is some commercial and some residential would go in there,” Zucker said. “We’d love if someone would develop a small version of the Streets of St. Charles, but that’s a bit challenging given the location.”

Along Bryan Road, north of Feise Road, is the largest vacant lot left in the city. Formerly a 186-acre farm, 106 acres were rezoned from commercial to residential for the Inverness subdivision, which is currently being built. That lease 80 acres up for discussion.

“We did a revision to the plan, which will be finalized for the October meeting, which calls for residential but with a commercial overlay along Bryan Road,” Zucker said. “That will invite some flexibility in the development community as how to best use that particular parcel. Bryan Road provides an awfully nice traffic flow, so we would be delighted if we could get some appropriate commercial development there. There’s a difference between the highest and best use in your imagination and the highest and best use in reality.”

A final vote on the 2020 Comprehensive Plan was postponed until the next P&Z meeting on Oct. 14, but according to Zucker, it won’t be the last time the issue of citywide land use comes before the chamber.

“We’ll probably update that portion of the plan every few years,” Zucker said.

To view the 2020 Comprehensive Plan, visit dardenneprairie.org and view the “Shine the Light on City Government” newsletter from Sept. 4.

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