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Fairways at Turtle Creek development seeks final council approval

After numerous passionate opposition speakers and packed Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council meetings, the council approved, on April 23, 2020, the construction of Fairways at Turtle Creek, a high-density development at 1301 Crooked Stick Drive, along Mexico Road and across from Fort Zumwalt West High. 

Then, on Sept. 24, 2020, the council had approved the rezoning of a 2-acre portion of the land to allow the owner and developer to construct a clubhouse and pool recreation area for the exclusive use of Fairways residents. Also on Sept. 24, the council approved the area plan for the clubhouse and pool.

That presumably ended the four-year journey of Missouri National Golf Links, LP, led by Ed Schultz, for city approval to develop the land into something generating more revenue than the existing golf driving range and batting cages.

Since then, the owner and developer have been working with city staff on the detailed construction plans and building permits needed to begin the actual construction of the residential areas. 

Fairways at Turtle Creek Clubhouse rendering (Source: City of O’Fallon)

On March 11, 2021, the council gave Bill No. 7290 a public hearing and first reading. The bill, sponsored by Ward 4 council members Dr. Jim Ottomeyer and Jeff Kuehn, proposes approving a final plan for the clubhouse, fitness center and pool. This item is all that remains for the council to approve for this overall development.

Doug Tiemann, director of engineering at Pickett, Ray and Silver, Inc. presented the final plan and renderings. Asked when ground would be broken, Tiemann said they were “hoping for this spring.”

After closing a public hearing during which no residents spoke but prior to the first reading of the bill, Mayor Bill Hennessy asked about a petition against this project which he had heard had 300-plus signatures. He asked if there were any comments about that.

Ed Schultz addressing the council March 11 (Source:O’FallonTV)

Schultz then addressed the council, saying, “Yes, there was some opposition to this. There were allegedly 300-plus signatures collected, and those were done in a couple of phases.”

He clarified the signatures were obtained over two years.  He said there was confusion about the original development created by a committee that was supposed to keep the residents of Turtle Creek informed about ongoing progress and what was happening. He said the committee told residents there were going to be several holes on the existing Falls golf course that would end up having housing units put on them. 

“That was never stated by us, was never the condition or plan, but yet many of those petition signatures were drawn from opposition to housing units replacing golf course holes, based on information handed out by the watch committee,” Schultz said.

Schultz said there was a second series of claims made at a meeting at the Turtle Creek Grill just a few weeks ago, where a group of residents again tried to get people interested in opposing the project. 

“Again, there was representation of a number of things. Basically, there were five statements made. Nothing new. Same as was passed out a year earlier. We responded to those, and all of the statements are misleading at best,” Schultz said.

He explained that one of the statements says that this type of development only has been built and only exists in two cities: Nashville and Seattle. As a result, they said it is a pilot project, experimental. Schultz said he could see why residents could get very concerned with that statement. 

“In reality, these projects started being developed in 2011, and at this time there now are well over 200 of these projects built and operational around the country,” Schultz said. “We have a consultant involved, and they have been following these projects. The consultant says all of these have been successful. In fact, many home builders now are generating funds to build more of these, because they have been so successful.”

Schultz lamented that what gets lost in all of this is that they started with 213 units to be in the Fairways at Turtle Creek development. Then, after listening to residents’ concerns, lowered that number and were approved for 128.

If typical process and timing are followed, the bill will receive a second reading and vote for passage at the March 25 council meeting.

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