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City Council affirms P & Z’s approval of Ella’s Place

The O’Fallon City Council has affirmed the Planning and Zoning Commission’s (P&Z) approval of Ella’s Place subdivision’s preliminary plat plan. 

The Trustees of Maryridge subdivision had filed an appeal of the approval; however, on Jan. 28 the council voted 6-2 to affirm the P&Z decision. Ward 1 council members Dave Hinman and Deana Smith voted “no.”  Council members Nathan Bibb (Ward 3) and Jeff Kuehn (Ward 4) were absent and excused.

Site location map. Source: City of O’Fallon

Prior to the vote, council members and City Attorney Kevin O’Keefe briefly discussed an active private lawsuit between Maryridge subdivision owners and the Ella’s Place subdivision developer. O’Keefe clarified that the outcome of that private lawsuit would have no bearing on the appeal of the P&Z decision. He explained that P&Z, the council and the city only have the obligation to ensure plat plans comply with city ordinances and codes. 

When asked, Planning and Development Director David Woods confirmed that the Ella’s Place preliminary plat plan, as submitted to P&Z, did comply with city codes and ordinances.

For the past 15 years, 2.67 acres of land at Emge Road and Shoen Morgan Drive have been controversial. For the first 14 years, it was because the land had become an undeveloped eyesore. Then, it was because plans for development kept getting tabled and deadlines extended. Finally, in November 2020, a preliminary plat plan was approved by P&Z. That decision still was controversial.

The main points of contention are that lot sizes in Ella’s Place will not be “large-lot,” and houses will have smaller setbacks from the street than those that already exist in the adjacent Maryridge subdivision.

Mid Rivers Newsmagazine published detailed stories about this property on Aug. 14, 2019, and Dec. 17, 2020, including photos and a map.

Original developer sign from 2018 (John Tremmel photo)

The history of Ella’s Place is complicated and messy.

  • In 2018, the applicant filed a substantially similar plat for a subdivision of the same property, then named Maryridge Estates. P&Z tabled that application at its April 5, 2018, meeting at the request of the applicant.
  • The application also was tabled at the May 3, 2018, and June 7, 2018, P&Z meetings.
  • The request was denied at the July 5, 2018, P&Z meeting.
  • The city council voted to remove the preliminary plat from the Committee and Commission Reports portion of the agenda on July 12, 2018, and sent it back to P&Z for failure to submit findings for denial and requested that P&Z meet with the city attorney prior to making a final decision.
  • P&Z approved the preliminary plat, renamed as Ella’s Place, at its Aug. 2, 2018, meeting.
  • P&Z approved an extension of the preliminary plat approval on Aug. 1, 2019, for one year.
  • Construction site plans were not approved by the deadline of August 2020, resulting in the preliminary plat approval expiring.
  • The applicant then submitted the current application for preliminary plat approval for essentially the same project as the one previously approved.
  • P&Z approved the preliminary plat plan at its Nov. 5, 2020 meeting.
  • On Nov. 12, 2020, the P&Z approval of the preliminary plat was on the city council’s committee and commission reports. The council accepted P&Z’s report of approval of the preliminary plat without modification, in accord the city’s subdivision code.
  • On Dec. 10, 2020, an appeal of the decision was taken under submission by the council.
  • On Jan. 28, 2021, the council affirmed P&Z’s decision.
  • The next step will be submission to P&Z of a final plat plan for Ella’s Place subdivision; the date for that is not yet known.
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