The Franklin County Planning and Zoning Commission Tuesday rejected a proposed revised zoning map, which would have reduced the numbers of overall districts in the county.
Planning Director Scottie Eagan and the planning department have been revising Article 7: Zoning Districts of the Unified Land Use regulations.
The commission voted 7-3 to deny the proposal after hearing comments from several residents in the Labadie area who objected to the “W” zoning district. The district allows for both commercial and residential development.
Commissioners Kyle Dubbert and Jay Schultehenrich were absent from the meeting. Those who voted to reject the proposal were commissioners Mike Klenke, Stan Voss, Tim Reinhold, Bill McLaren, Debbie Willette, Ron Williams and newly seated commissioner Dennis Hartmann.
The commissioners who voted against the motion to reject the proposal were Bill Evans, Tom Tobben and Dan Haire.
The Franklin County Commission is scheduled to meet Thursday, Nov. 14, at 1:30 p.m. regarding the proposed zoning districts.
Under the revised plan, there would be one less residential district than there is now, bringing the total zoning districts down from 10 to nine.
The districts would be renamed W, B, R, A, Y, O, P, T and G. A new color-coded map was displayed at the meeting.
No one spoke in favor of the proposed zoning districts, however, more than a dozen who live in the northeastern portion of Franklin County — within the proposed “W” zoning district — spoke in opposition.
This proposed district is both commercial and residential, and according to the district’s purpose statement, “The intent of this district is to provide for agricultural uses to mix with low density residential uses for the convenience of residents and travelers.”
For example, the district would allow residential usages for small subdivisions with fewer than seven lots, two-family dwellings, single-wide mobile homes or planned unit developments.
Nonresidential spaces such as billboards, cemeteries, day cares, golf courses and ranges, medical marijuana indoor cultivation facilities and repair shops are a part of a list that totals 42 different types of businesses that would be permitted in the district.
Ann Schwetye, who has property on Grand Army Road, mentioned a recent St. Louis Business Journal report about increased land values in Labadie. The article named Labadie as one of best areas for return on investments in housing stocks. She said she lives very close to Labadie, which consists of rural and farming land.
“The return on investment over the 10 years in Labadie has increased 239 percent. That’s a very large increase for the return on investment,” Schwetye said.
“I think it’s due because the area has restricted uses,” she said. “I think we’re suburban development. I understand that you are trying to get the best value out of the property and the taxes, however, I think this speaks for itself in the article in the land value around Labadie, which has increased by far much more.”
Schwetye said she grew up on a farm in Iowa next to a fish processing plant. Animal processing plants would be a permitted use in the proposed “W” district.
“If an animal processing plant comes next to my property, I know that there are odors; I know that there are environmental issues,” she said.
Angela Dillman said she and her husband have been living on Fiddle Creek Road for 16 years. They moved from St. Louis County to be in a quieter rural area.
“I don’t understand why all of a sudden we are just opening the flood gates to just about anything,” Dillman said.
She mentioned a medical marijuana-infused production plant could potentially be built next to her property under the proposed land use plan.
“To just say ‘Hey, all of this stuff can be allowed now,’ is extremely disturbing,” Dillman said. “We’re on 21 1/2 acres — we hope to pass it down to our kids. It’s just been a great family place.”
Dillman also talked about leaving parts of Highway 100 as residential, which are proposed to be commercial development under the new zoning districts.
Jeanette Brinkmann, who also lives on Fiddle Creek Road, said she was the director for the public water district board for more than 20 years and delivered mail in that area for 28 years. She noted that there is not infrastructure in place to support the industries that would be permitted in a W zoning district.
When Interstate 44 is closed due to snow, Brinkmann said drivers take the Gray Summit exit and travel on Highway 100, which causes “terrible” traffic. At times, she mentioned how she could not deliver mail because of too many cars traveling on Highway 100.
“I know there’s no infrastructure along Highway T, between Labadie and St. Albans, so a development there would be quite bad,” Brinkmann said. “While there’s waterlines along (Highway) 100, there’s no sewer until you get onto Victoria Gardens.”
Labadie resident Mike Genovese asked why the zoning districts are being changed.
Eagan explained that she and the planning department looked at the topography, the current zoning districts and uses, the future land-use map, the master plan and where infrastructure is and where it is not.
“In our opinion, that area of the northeast county isn’t fit for a high-density residential district. It’s more of a fit in the ‘W’ district and that’s why the change happened,” Eagan said.
Cynthia Brown noted that the zoning district changes will affect residents in surrounding cities such as Washington.
“A lot of people come out of the city just to drive to your area because of the historical value that you have there,” she said. “That’s going to stop once you start infiltrating all these businesses in this area and that’s going to affect your revenue in the city of Washington.”
She stated that the commission should reconsider the rezoning changes.
“Everybody comes from the city to see this beautiful town and they want to go through these beautiful, open areas and you’re going to destroy it. What are you thinking?” Brown asked.
Union resident Ann Schroeder said her concerns are regarding confined animal feed operations (CAFOs).
“It’s a big problem,” she said. “When I look at this (map), the CAFOs could be everywhere and anywhere almost, except for cities.”
Schreoder, a former county commissioner, stated she was a part of the Missouri Association of Counties.
“Out of the 114 counties that we have, we’re kind of still considered as a municipality, but CAFOs were causing such issues for the water, the streams, everything,” she said. “I’d hate to see that happen because they have so many tributaries in Franklin County.”
Commissioner Bill McLaren said his opinion regarding the proposed rezoning districts has not changed since last month.
“I truly don’t believe that the white district fits as many places in the county that it is,” he said. “I don’t think it’s fair to look at eastern Franklin County and western Franklin County and judge them the same as far as what should be in the white agricultural district.
“I think we need to find an accommodation that better suits the area,” he said.
After more discussion among the commission members, McLaren and Commissioner Debbie Willette thanked the residents who spoke out.