Proposed car lot in Ellisville causes concern
By DIANE SAMSON
Ellisville residents packed city hall for the Sept. 17 Council meeting to voice concern over a possible auto dealership lot proposed for adjoining properties at 445 and 437 Old State Road, at the intersection of Pierside Lane and Old State Road.
Lee Allen, Jr., owner of Allen Roofing, owns the property in question. At the Sept. 17 meeting, his attorney presented the Council with a proposal to re-zone Allen’s property from M-1, light industrial, to C-5, planned commercial, so it could be used for overflow parking and as an Internet sales hub for a local auto dealership.
The Planning and Zoning Commission had previously voted 4-3 against rezoning the plot for commercial use; however, its current M-1 zoning allows a parking lot to be built on the property, which could be used by a car dealership for overflow parking.
The Council has final say on rezoning based on positive or negative recommendations from P&Z. If the Council were to decide in favor of rezoning, it could overrule the P&Z recommendation with a super majority vote.
Allen wanted to bring the issue to the Council’s attention to get feedback from the Council before proceeding in any direction.
“West County Honda needs a place to park cars,” Allen said at the meeting. “But my understanding is that they can’t just park cars there, they have to sell cars. This would not be a Honda dealership. They’d just use it for some small scale sales.”
Residents expressed dismay over the prospects of more traffic on Old State Road as well as what a parking lot full of cars would do to property values in the area.
Linda Leach, an Ellisville resident who lives close to the property in question, said she appreciates and supports local businesses, but she is concerned about what looks like an auto sales business so close to her neighborhood.
“I understand that a business needs to go there,” Leach said. “But that business needs to be compatible with the community.”
Allen said he has invested at least $10,000 in improving the lot and wants to develop it for a business use, whether that means changing the zoning to allow for sales on the lot or using the current zoning that would allow overflow parking, or even a convenience store to be built there.
Resident Bill Gantz opposed changing the zoning to C-5.
“We don’t want car sales,” Gantz said. “If they want to build a parking lot, we have to live with the zoning that was there, but to change the zoning to permit car sales is changing the rules on us. We just have to keep the big idea in mind. Where does Ellisville want to go?”
Fred Vilbig, resident and chairman of the Board of Adjustment, agrees. Vilbig expressed concern of increased traffic on Pierside Lane.
“This property is better suited to another business purpose,” said Vilbig. “There is no benefit to the city to do this, and everybody in the neighborhood is opposed.”
After hearing feedback from all parties, the Council voted to suspend discussion on rezoning the property, sending it back to P&Z for reconsideration because of a lack of clarity in the purpose and future use of the property.