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Planning Commission weighs final OK of proposal for former St. John School


July 20, 2005 - The county Planning Commission has given tentative approval to the plans for a condominium complex at the former St. John Elementary School campus and was scheduled to consider final approval Monday night — after the Call went to press.

Planning Commission members had little discussion about the plan and rezoning request on July 12 before voting unanimously in favor of the revised plan proposed by Greater Missouri Builders. The Planning Commission already had voted to hold on the proposal twice, asking Greater Missouri Builders to decrease the number of condominium units and increase the number of parking spaces.

"The main concern of the Planning Com-mission was adequate parking based on the number of buildings, and we requested two pair per unit and that's what came back to us, so we were satisfied," commission member Wayne Hilzinger said.

The approved proposal was sent back to the company, which has asked for a few changes to the plan, such as allowing retaining walls to be higher than what was approved and decreasing the approved internal roadways from 24 feet to 22, said Ron Nelson of Greater Missouri Builders.

"There were a couple of things that were minor and some that were more important," Nelson said.

Zoning Section Head Debi Salberg said that because the changes are minor the commission most likely will approve the plan and send a formal recommendation to the County Council for its Aug. 2 meeting, after the council's summer break.

The company originally proposed constructing an eight-building complex with a total of 128 two-bed, two-bath, 1,150-square-foot condos. The original plan also included 192 parking spaces, which met the 1.5 parking space per unit requirement in the county zoning ordinance.

Salberg said the Planning Commission suggested that the company increase parking spaces so that there are two parking spaces for each condo to accommodate residents who own more than one car and for guest parking. She said Greater Mis-souri Builders changed its plan accordingly.

"The plan has two parking spaces per unit, and they now meet the parking set backs from Will Avenue and Three Acres Lane," Salberg said.

The revised plan now calls for six buildings with 104 condos and 208 parking spaces.

"In order to get the parking, you had to reduce the number of buildings, which makes the site less dense," Hilzinger said.

Many residents who live nearby opposed the proposal, saying the condominiums will lead to more traffic and more accidents at an already congested intersection. Plus, the condominium complex would not have direct access to Lemay Ferry Road and residents of the complex first would have to turn onto Will Avenue.

Nelson said that the complex could not have access to Lemay Ferry because the exit would be too close to the exit at Will Avenue. He said the company plans to widen Will Avenue with a turn lane to compensate for the extra traffic.

Greater Midwest Builders contracted to buy the 5.85-acre property from the Mehl-ville School District for $1.1 million, but the sale is contingent on several factors, including the zoning change that would allow the company to build multifamily condominiums.

The Mehlville School District originally had planned to build the new early childhood center, now called the John Cary Early Childhood Center, at the St. John's campus site, but instead the center is being built on the Beasley Elementary School campus. The location was changed after administrators cited budgetary, site-development, access, safety and aesthetic concerns about the St. John's site. The early childhood center is the final new building that will be constructed under the Proposition P districtwide building improvement program.

Voters in November 2000 approved Proposition P, a nearly $68.4 million bond issue funded by a 49-cent tax-rate increase.

However, the Board of Education voted in November to approve a revised Proposition P budget of $88,927,440.

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