Creve Coeur P&Z considers a request to rezone former Belle Maison property
By: Kate Uptergrove
While the Cardinals were battling the Giants on Oct. 15, some Creve Coeur residents were not in front of their televisions. Instead, they were packed into a Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. Most of those in attendance were there to protest the rezoning of the former Belle Maison subdivision from single-family residential with a residential design development (RDD) approval to a planned residential development allowing 10 single-family residential lots, a 180-bed skilled care facility and a 160-unit senior living facility.
The property in question is the proposed future site of Delmar Gardens Creve Coeur Renaissance. Located along Ladue Road, west of I-270, the property has Parkway Northwest Middle School as its northeast neighbor and the Ladue Pines subdivision as its neighbor to the south.
The majority of the protestors in attendance were residents of Ladue Pines. Chief among their complaints was increased traffic congestion on Ladue Road; however, Shawn White, of Crawford, Bunte, Brammeier, transportation and traffic engineers, described the situatioin as a “roughly 2 percent increase to current Ladue Road traffic.”
White’s projection is based on a comprehensive traffic study conducted in 2010-2011. In conducting the study, White indicated that particular attention was given to analyzing traffic flow during peak hours when parents and buses are dropping off and picking up students from Northeast Middle. She noted that while the Missouri Department of Transportation denied Delmar Gardens’ request for a traffic signal or roundabout on Ladue Road, it did conclude that “a left-turn lane into the site was warranted.”
White also noted that the entrance to the site would be a shared entrance with Care and Counseling St. Louis, located at 12141 Ladue Road, to help ease congestion at the entrance of Ladue Pines.
Creve Coeur resident Judy Campbell was among the residents to speak during the public comment portion of the evening. She shared the example of her family visiting her father in a skilled nursing facility and made mention of a proposed day care center on the Renaissance site. Then she questioned, “How many clients are going to be coming in and going out? How many employees? How many visitors? It’s going to shut down Ladue.”
Judy Wasserman, who referenced a petition with 123 signatures in opposition to the rezoning, echoed Campbell’s concerns.
“The Planning and Zoning Commission has a choice,” she said, “preserve Ladue Road or destroy it.”
However, not all residents were opposed to the rezoning request. George Hansford, who owns 4 acres west of the site, spoke in favor of the development.
“I met with Delmar Gardens and talked about my issues and they have corrected all the erosion problems that I had on my property. … I want closure on the property. It’s been 12 years, four owners, many different proposals. I just think this bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” Hansford said.
Delmar Gardens’ effort to correct a drainage problem that exists on the property also brought forth remarks from Brian Thornquist, who lives on property “that has been described as the mudslide area.”
He noted that the solution proposed by Delmar Gardens, which includes an underground storm water collection and treatment reservoir, appears to be the best solution to correct the drainage problem. “But that doesn’t necessarily mean the whole project should be approved,” he said.
He shared a personal experience about having a loved one in assisted living care and then offered the commission some words of advice.
“It’s a complicated request they’ve made,” Thornquist said, “and I would ask that the commission continue to evaluate everything they told you tonight and spend more time thinking about the need that might come up 20 years from now for our aging population.”
At the start of the meeting, Paul Langdon, Creve Coeur’s director of community development, presented his assessment of the project and offered a favorable opinion for P&Z to continue its evaluation. Delmar Gardens also had a chance to present its development plans.
The discussion will continue at the P&Z meeting on Nov. 5.