Pacific aldermen approved voluntary annexation of a 15-acre parcel of land at 18777 Route 66 (East Osage) in unincorporated St. Louis County, which promises to bring between 300 and 500 high-paying jobs, according to Alderman Steve Myers.
Two measures were on the May 16 board of aldermen meeting agenda regarding the property — one, the voluntary annexation into the city of Pacific, and the other a zone change from NU nonurban to M1 light industrial.
The parcel is located immediately west of the Eureka Fire District training center and the Missouri Eastern Correctional center. Jeffrey Busam is the property owner.
It was the city, not the property owner, that brought the request for the zone change following the advice of the city attorney, according to City Administrator Steve Roth.
“It’s appropriate for the city to designate the zoning of a parcel that is annexed into the city,” Roth said.
Residents of Hill View Drive, which abuts portions of the parcel, opposed the zone change, saying light industrial would not be compatible with their large-lot residential neighborhood. They also said they did not have adequate notice of the public hearing.
Tony French, 5365 Hill View Drive, said he had learned of the zone change by accident when he pulled into the driveway to turn around.
“I don’t know how you make a decision,” French said. “But this (neighborhood) is not compatible with semi trucks and light industrial.”
Residents said they had learned of the zone change and annexation when they saw a notice posted on the portion of the property that faces East Osage (Route 66). No signs were posted on the Hill View Drive lots.
Roth said the city had followed state statute in posting zone change notifications.
“The state doesn’t require us to post on those properties,” Roth said.
Caroline Abeln questioned the decision to not post the meeting on the parcels near adjoining residents.
“You posted on the sneakiest parcel, not on Hill View Drive where we would see it,” Abeln said.
Roth advised aldermen to postpone action on the annexation until the rezoning issue was settled, saying it’s possible that if the zone change is not approved the property owner might not want to annex into the city. But Myers said time is of the essence.
“If this falls through we stand to lose 300 to 500 jobs,” he said.
Myers asked for a break in the meeting so he could contact the property owner and ask if he would still wish to annex into Pacific with the zoning still in question. Following the break, Myers said he had spoken to a representative of the property owner and he did want the annexation to move forward.
Alderman Carol Johnson said she was uncomfortable with moving on the annexation.
“We haven’t annexed anything for a long time,” she said. “We need to go slow and get this right.”
Alderman Mike Pigg suggested that the public hearing on the zone change be left open until the next meeting to allow other concerned property owners the opportunity to speak.
French said there were 20 property owners on Hill View Drive not aware of the zone change of the public hearing.
“You all have a vested interest. Don’t rely on us,” Mayor Jeff Palmore told the property owners. “Contact your neighbors or whoever might be involved . . . they should be given an opportunity to speak.”
By state law if 30 percent of the property owners within 185 feet oppose a zone change, it would require a super majority of the board to pass it, which is five votes on a six-person board.
The public hearing and final approval of the zone change will be on the June 6 board of aldermen meeting agenda.