A rezoning request at First Street and Highway 47 was given first round approval Monday.

The Washington Planning and Zoning Commission Monday voted 7-0 to approve the rezoning of 823 E. First St. from R-1B residential to C-1 commercial.

The request is being made by Melissa Huntington, Farmers Insurance, to relocate her insurance office from 1115 Clock Tower Plaza, Washington.

A public hearing is slated for Monday, March 18, in front of the city council.

Planning board members Tony Gokenbach mad Mark Kluesner were not at the meeting.

According to Sal Maniaci, community and economic development director, the C-1 district, or neighborhood commercial, is appropriate for area adjacent to zoned residential districts.

“If you have commercial in an area adjacent to residential, C-1 is what you want to go there,” he said.

Planning board member John Borgmann questioned if there will be issues accessing the property because of the close proximity to the new Highway 47 bridge over the Missouri River.

“Coming off the bridge is there a traffic issue that needs to be looked at?” he asked.

Maniaci stated there is no new curb cut for the proposed business so the rezoning can’t be contingent on a traffic study.

“I don’t see a concern with a lot of traffic coming through there,” added Huntington. “I addressed this with Farmers (Insurance) already. They like the area. They like the exposure.”

Huntington added that she has had an agency in Washington for about eight years.

The city council must give the final approval of the rezoning.

If approved and developed, Huntington would be required to screen between the adjacent residentially zoned district and the property, and provide on-site parking.  

Property Owner

Andrea Rau, and her husband, Dr. Michael Rau, own the property 823 E. First St. and others under the name Overton Properties.

Andrea Rau noted that the property is best suited to be rezoned to commercial.

“We feel the best use of this property is commercial,” she said. “It is highly visible and accessible.”

Rau said she and her husband have owned the lot for over 10 years. The last tenant gave notice to leave in July 2018 due to bridge construction.

“We have had no potential renters as of that time,” Andrea Rau added.

She explained that the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) approached Overton Properties in 2015 seeking an easement there, and other properties to the south.

MoDOT paid “fair market value,” about $2,000, for the easement, Andrea Rau added. Property to the south of First Street was sold to Mercy Hospital.

She noted the easement allowed for the state to take down several large oak trees that acted as a buffer for the home at 823 E. First St.

“During those talks with MoDOT, we expressed interest in selling the house at 823 to make for a wider access on the west side of the new bridge,” Rau added. “MoDOT (representatives) said they were not interested and they did not enter into any negotiations at all.”

Rau further added that she talked with MoDOT staff, including Area Engineer Judy Wagner, at the bridge construction site expressing concern of southbound traffic approaching the curve on Highway 47 directly to the north of their property.

She stated she again was told that the state did not want to purchase the property.

“This is my opportunity to set the record straight and to let the public know that we did not hold up MoDOT for an outrageous price which resulted in the extreme curve to the south end of the bridge,” Rau said.