Building Commissioner Shawn Seymore told planning and zoning commission members that they should not hold a public hearing in zone change applications, even though city ordinances call for it.
Speaking at the June 26 P&Z meeting, Seymore said the mayor and city attorney had instructed him that the traditional public hearing should not be held, citing a state statute that he said overrides city ordinances.
He said state statute authorizes local governments to decide when and how public hearings were held.
The discussion took place as Seymore submitted a zoning map amendment to change the zoning district of an 3.4-acre parcel at 5802 Hill View Drive from St. Louis County NU non urban to Pacific M1 light industrial.
At the P&Z meeting, Seymore urged the commission to act on the zone change application without a public hearing. He said the property was newly annexed into the city and is owned by ADB Companies, which is constructing a new headquarters complex on adjoining property.
He said the applicant also had submitted an application to voluntarily annex the property to Pacific.
ADB Companies owns the 3.4-acre site at 5802 Hill View Drive, which is adjacent to the building site of its new headquarters complex at 18777 Highway 66 at Hill View Drive.
Commissioner Mike Bates abstained from acting on the matter saying he is a property owner on Hill View Drive. He stepped down from the podium to address the commission on the zone change.
Bates said the absence of a public hearing deprived the Hill View Drive residents of prior knowledge that the zone change would take place. He said the city had promised the residents that they would be notified of any changes that affected their road.
Bates said he’s concerned that acquisition of a property further up Hill View Drive would bring more traffic to the rural residential area after residents were promised that no truck traffic would be brought onto their road.
“A solemn promise was made to those residents that no truck traffic would be on that narrow, unimproved road,” he said. “It’s asphalt on top of dirt. Now they’re saying no entrance off Hill View but they said that before. There’s a little bit of dancing going on here.
“If we destroy that road the residents will come back to Pacific to fix it,” Bates added. “This property goes quite a way up Hill View Drive. I’d be surprised if they don’t want an entry into it.”
Chairman Linda Bruns also voiced concerns about the desires of the Hill View Drive property owners.
“Those property owners were taken advantage of and I don’t go along with that,” Bruns said.
Following a 7-1 vote to approve the zone change, with Bates abstaining, Commissioner Jerry Eversmeyer said he didn’t like it that the public hearing was not held at P&Z level.
“This is where it is supposed to be held,” Eversmeyer said.
“I would like to have seen it happen here,” Commissioner Jim Smith said.
Seymore said the mayor and city attorney had instructed him that no public hearing would be held at P&Z. He cited chapter 89.050, which stipulates that the legislative body shall provide the manner in which public hearings are held, not the mayor and city attorney.
Mayor Steve Myers, who was not present at the P&Z meeting told The Missourian that he had a discussion with Seymore, City Administrator Steve Roth and City Attorney Bob Jones about another subdivision.
On that subdivision, there was no controversy so it would not have caused concern to have only one public hearing. But even then, the mayor said, he had intended to ask the board of aldermen to forgo the P&Z public hearing, not just cancel it.
Myers said he had instructed the building commissioner and city administrator that special attention should be paid to notifying residents on Hill View Drive because of promises made to the residents.
The city did post the property that a public hearing would be held July 3 during the board of aldermen meeting regarding the zone change to M1 light industrial district.
City Administrator Steve Roth later told The Missourian that only one public hearing is required and he and Jones had made the decision to hold public hearings at the board of aldermen level. He said the Hill View Drive residents had been properly notified.