Ellisville to update land use code
By DIANE E. SAMSON
The Ellisville City Council on Nov. 7 passed the first reading of a bill to amend the city’s land use code, bringing it more in line with recommendations from the St. Louis Great Streets Initiative on topics such as parking requirements for new and existing businesses and boundaries of the future town center.
According to Ada Hood, director of planning and community development, the current code requires businesses to provide parking in a way that is not conducive to businesses sharing parking.
Ellisville is also looking to allow its buildings to be built closer to the street so that parking can be put behind the front building line. This accommodation would apply to new buildings as part of Ellisville’s planned town center.
These changes were to be small steps to help Ellisville come in line with the recommendations for Great Streets Initiative that, in Ellisville, runs along Manchester Road from Old State Road to Ranchmoor Trail.
All councilmembers voted in favor of the code revision with the exception of Mayor Adam Paul, who objected to a second reading of the bill on the grounds that the ordinance was poorly written, had typographical errors and inconsistencies in wording. Paul also resisted the idea of putting language from the Great Streets Initiative into city code.
“The Great Streets Initiative is a five-city document created to give a guideline or perspective view of those five cities,” Paul said. “It is not a binding city document and should not be incorporated into our city law.”
The Great Streets Initiative’s goal is to provide a more pleasant experience on Manchester Road by encouraging boutiques, integrated parking, consistent landscaping and street lighting as well as providing access for shoppers to get from store to store without having to reenter Manchester Road.
Another area where Paul said the bill was not clear was on the boundaries of the future town center. He said there were not standard definitions, such as for the use of retail space, and would be confusing for business owners attempting to comply.
“I don’t feel you can vote on an incomplete document,” Paul said. “You don’t vote on something unless it’s finalized and it’s right, especially when it’s law.”
Hood indicated she would be happy to meet with the mayor to discuss these issues, and then explained that the Great Streets plan has an illustrated map that shows the specific boundaries of what is intended to be the town center.
Hood also said that they were developing a comprehensive plan and a vision for Ellisville, and based on that vision they develop zoning codes.
The zoning code, she said, is supposed to reference back and be consistent with the comprehensive plan.
When asked by a councilmember if Mayor Paul’s concerns were valid, City Attorney Paul Martin said that they may not be. He said the language made sense to him as an attorney, although it perhaps could be written better. He also noted that the definitions that were concerning to the mayor were in other parts of the zoning code.
Paul said he plans to present his concerns to the City Council in a more organized and clear manner at the next meeting.
“This should have been discussed in a work session,” said Paul. “When you amend the city code, you have to have all your ducks in a row.”