July 10, 2013 - The Green Park Planning and Zoning Commission recommended against a new subdivision proposed on property owned by an alderman.
In two separate votes last week, the commission voted 5-4 and 6-3 to recommend denial of the Arbors at Clydesdale Park, a subdivision with 44 attached homes proposed by developer J.H. Berra at 10995 Kohrs Lane, which is owned by Ward 2 Alderman Tim Thuston.
Dozens of residents attended a sometimes contentious meeting July 2. Those who spoke opposed the proposal for traffic or aesthetic reasons.
The Board of Aldermen will conduct a public hearing Monday, Aug. 19, before it considers the proposed subdivision.
Thuston will be required to recuse himself from the board's vote, and four of the five remaining aldermen will have to vote in favor of the project for it to be approved, said City Administrator/City Clerk Zella Pope.
Ward 1 Alderman Tony Pousosa, who serves on the Planning and Zoning Commission, voted against the proposed development both times.
J.H. Berra Construction Co., headquartered in Oakville, seeks to build a 44-unit subdivision on 7.88 acres of land owned by Thuston. The developer requested a change in zoning from RS-1, single-family, to RS-1 with a planned development district. The first 5-4 vote was on the subdivision itself, then the 6-3 vote recommended against the rezoning.
As proposed, the houses will be single-family attached homes, with two houses attached to each other, as with a duplex, with a two-car garage for each separate home. They will be built by McBride & Sons, which has built a number of developments in the greater metro area.
Two former city officials were among those who spoke against the development, along with a few other citizens. Other than Thuston, no residents spoke in favor of the development at the meeting. Thuston said he hoped the commission would recommend approval of it.
Thuston said his grandfather bought the property in April 1944 and his mother has lived on the property since she was 12 years old. But the house and property are starting to need more repairs and upkeep and Thuston said he is impressed with J.H. Berra's plans for the property. Neighbors have written to the city with complaints about water from a creek on the property that flows onto neighboring properties.
"Water's rushing down through the property, it's going down to the subdivision below and causing problems," Thuston said. "The project will correct a lot of that."
The creek that runs through the property will be capped and closed off, J.H. Berra Vice President Al Hicks said in his presentation, solving the water issue for neighbors of the property.
Former Mayor Tony Konopka, who resigned his post for health reasons last year, told the commission that when he left office he had promised himself he would stay out of city business, but he would make an exception to speak against this development. A subdivision of that scope does not belong in that area of Green Park, on a lot that size, he said.
"I'll say it's like putting 10 pounds of potatoes in a five-pound bag, is what's going to be happening here," he said. "I can see the seller will have his bag of money, he'll be happy when he leaves. The developer will also have his bag of money and be happy when he leaves. But I think the city's going to be holding a bag, too — and maybe it's not going to be all that great."
The development also concerned Trudy Hoey, one of the original aldermen when Green Park was incorporated in 1995. Hoey helped develop the city's comprehensive plan, which does not call for developments like Arbors at Clydesdale Park, she said.
"The city itself has not created any residential multi-family units ... I can assure you, when we developed that plan, having multi-family in that area was not part of it. That was something we were trying to protect against," Hoey said. "Single-family has been the order of the day and what the founders of our city have in mind.
"So I just want to hope that you keep that in mind as you're planning this. That's a lot of units in a small area."
The homes could sell for $160,000 to $200,000, Hicks said, noting the selling price of similar McBride homes in subdivisions elsewhere. J.H. Berra and McBride are also developing the upscale Grant's View subdivision in south county, on the former Busch estate across from Grant's Farm.
The proposed Arbors at Clydesdale Park is near Green Park Gardens, an apartment complex that already existed when the city was incorporated in 1995.
"It would be difficult to develop this site into a standard residential subdivision," Hicks told the commission. "When you look at what's existing across the street, this, we feel, is a use that would really be compatible going from multi-family into residential, as a buffer."
Based on a traffic study conducted by Lee Cannon, a traffic engineer at Crawford, Bunte, Brammeier, the development would not add much traffic to surrounding streets: an additional 350 to 440 total trips per day, on top of the 2,000 trips already taken by existing residents. That equates to one trip every two minutes at peak times, Cannon noted.
"Is it overburdening the physical system? The answer that I gave to that is no," Cannon said. "Will the neighbors like it? They may not."
"(The traffic is) a lot thicker than they're telling you," resident Norm Christensen said. "I don't know where their facts are coming from. It doesn't sound well-researched to me ... I don't want to see you not sell your property, but I don't think this is the answer."