The Pacific Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) voted this week to recommend approval of two measures that would allow a company with 300 employees to locate its headquarters at Highway 66 and Hill View Drive.
ADB Companies wants to construct a 20,370-square-foot, two-story office building, along with 26,400-square-foot maintenance building, two employee parking lots and two stormwater detention ponds on the 15-acre site.
The complex will employ approximately 300 people, including 60 office workers, 17 maintenance workers and approximately 160 field workers to start.
ADB requested consolidation of five existing tracts, including one that faces Route 66, and four residential lots on Hill View Drive. Company officials also requested rezoning of the consolidated lot from nonurban (NU) to planned unit development (PUD).
Over the objections of several Hill View Drive residents, the P&Z board voted to recommend approval of both requests.
The crux of residents’ objections was the change in the ADB plan that they viewed in May when the firm and city promised that there would be no entry into the industrial site off Hill View Drive.
During last week’s public hearing, Project Manager David Schlueter, L. Keeley Construction, presented a new plan that allows 160 vehicles a day to enter the ADB employee parking lot from Hill View Drive.
Office employees and maintenance department employees will enter off Highway 66, but all field workers will enter the employee parking lot off Hill View Drive.
Approximately 20 Hill View Drive residents appeared at the public hearing. Spokespersons said the city was reversing its promise to have no entrance to the site off Hill View Drive.
Neighbors said that amount of traffic would present a nightmare traffic jam twice a day as 160 cars arrive or leave the site.
“When I come home from work, westbound turning in, this whole stream of cars will be coming out of the driveway,” Caroline Abeln said. “This is the reason we asked for access not to be on Hill View. I think this has to be redone. It’s not acceptable.”
Schleuter said ADB had originally planned for all employees to enter the site from Highway 66, but MoDOT would not allow three cuts into the site from Highway 66, which is a state road.
The new plan shows two cuts, one designed for vehicle entry and one for exit.
Tony French, Hill View Drive resident, said the firm could redraw the plan and have the field employees enter from Route 66. He said the field employee parking lot is only feet from one driveway off Osage, separated by a drainage creek.
“You could build a bridge over the creek to that parking lot,” French said. “You have 15 acres. You could put employee parking behind your building.”
Other speakers echoed the complaint, saying getting out on Highway 66 in the morning and getting into their residential road in the evening would be a constant traffic jam.
P&Z Chairman Linda Bruns sympathized with the residents, saying the city had made a solemn promise that there would be no entry to the site off their street.
“The residents need to go to St. Louis County to see if that road can stand up to that amount of traffic at that width,” Bruns said. “I see danger here.”
Commissioner Jim Smith agreed, saying the location is the site of frequent, serious accidents. Bruns and Smith each said they could recall numerous fatalities from accidents at that site.
Residents said they worried that light industrial zoning could creep up their residential street.
Commissioner Jerry Eversmeyer suggested they apply for rezoning.
“The zoning you’re in now is not residential,” Eversmeyer said. “You could go to St. Louis County and get that road zoned residential. The downside is that once you do that your property taxes go up. You guys are out there in the country.”
Smith said because of development in the area property values will go up anyway.
“You’re in St. Louis County, two miles off the interstate,” he said. “Development will continue. What you’ll see is a light industrial substation, commercial businesses like carpet outlet stores and behind that to the east of the power lines will be residential.”
Smith said in the end the desire for the economic health of the city has to outweigh the concerns of the residents.
“It’s not fun for us to make difficult decisions,” he said. “There are no easy answers to difficult questions.”
The two measures go to the board of aldermen for approval this next week.