The Washington Planning and Zoning Commission Monday approved the annexation of a parcel of land, despite the pleas of neighbors who disagree with how the property would be zoned.
The commission voted 7-0 to approve the annexation of 16.8 acres south of Highway 100, and zoning the lot R-3 multifamily residential. David Kampschroeder applied for the annexation of the tract of vacant land adjacent to the city limits near Highway 100 and South Old Pottery Road. Mayor Sandy Lucy and commission member John Borgmann were not at the meeting.
The commission also approved the rezoning of 2.2 acres from R-1A single-family to R-3 multifamily residential.
The recommendations must be approved by the Washington City Council.
Kampschroeder, under the name Little Elm LLC, was represented by Washington developer Kurt Unnerstall.
The requests were tabled last month; however, two other requests by the same landowner were approved in June. Those included requests to rezone 7 acres at 132 South Old Pottery from R-1A single-family to C-2 general commercial, and then rezone an additional acre off of West Highway 100 to C-2 general commercial.
Gary Dussealt, a resident of Old Pottery Road, presented the commission with a petition signed by six residents at three homes on the street requesting that the property not be zoned R-3 multifamily.
Dussealt said the neighbors would like to know how the property would be developed.
“The thought was to be able to, at least, have some input as to how this transition from R-1A low-density housing to R-3 multifamily high-density housing was going to affect the change in the areas being developed,” he said. “Once the land is rezoned to R-3, the plans can change continuously depending on the contractor or developer as they see fit, and if they follow the regulations set forth for R-3 multifamily high-density housing.”
Dussealt noted that neighboring landowners want the property to be zoned single-family.
“As you have heard from previous meetings, bringing in the R-3 multifamily high-density housing is not in the best interest of those currently residing in these areas,” he added. “Please take a strong consideration of the established neighborhoods you will be affecting when making your decision to any rezoning of the areas in question.”
Steve Hoffman, Spring Valley Lane, said whatever is developed on the land is 60 feet from his back door.
He said he is concerned with the water runoff onto his property.
“A large part of it drains in my yard,” he said. “I know the next time it rains it will not be rain, but mud.”
Sal Maniaci, community and economic development director, said that any development would require a permit. That would require an engineer to ensure that any stormwater remain on site.
Hoffman commented that a multifamily development is not appropriate at this location, and could also cause light pollution and increased traffic noise.
“This is going to trash my lot and clearly change the street,” he said. “This development will just change the whole area.”
Harry Kessler, who also lives on Spring Valley Lane, questioned the future need of senior housing. Last month, Unnerstall said there may be a senior development, similar to Riverbend Estates off High Street, on the property. However, there are no plans in place yet and Unnerstall did not mention senior housing plans Monday.
“Within five years all that will be added in our backyard is low-income housing,” Kessler argued.
Planning Commission Chairman Tom Holdmeier noted that the Riverbend Estates is not low-income or subsidized housing.
Kessler echoed comments from Dussealt stating that the development plans are not known.
“We can’t fight this because we don’t know what it is,” he said.
South Old Pottery Road resident Rick Moore said he is concerned about increased crime if apartments are built on the property.
“Opening Pandora’s box of changing to R-3 is pretty frightening,” he said. “We are the ones who have to live with the change of density.”
He added that neighboring property values would drop and he fears that century-old trees that “add character” to the area will be removed.
“We want homeowners, not renters,” Moore commented. “We think it should be consistent with what’s around the area now.”
Unnerstall stated he is seeking R-3 zoning so he can “transition” from commercially zoned property to the north, into single-family homes to the south and east.
“We want the zoning to have flexibility,” he said. “We may work R-1 around the edges.”
Unnerstall said he is local, and he has a record of quality developments.
“My record is impeccable,” he said. “You are better off with a local guy than a St. Louis developer.”
Unnertsall added that he left $30,000 in walnut trees when he developed the Stone Crest subdivision to provide a better environment to the residents.
Planning commission member Mark Kluesner said there is a lot of unwarranted fear by neighbors.
“There is a lot of negativity around this development that I don’t think should be a worry,” he said.
“My plan is to come up with a plan that works with the neighborhood,” added Unnerstall.
He explained that could mean apartments to the north, then town homes and single-family homes as the development goes to the south.
When asked by commission member Samantha Cerutti-Wacker, Unnerstall said he will develop the property and work with other area builders who will construct residences.
Unnerstall further stated presenting a plan beforehand would be very costly.
“That would be thousands and thousands of dollars in plans that you guys would get to pick apart,” he said. “In the interest of time, let’s get it zoned and then I can have the flexibility (to develop it).”