Construction Of Two Dozen Homes Pending – Webster-Kirkwood Times, Inc.

Its possible that after three tries and three fails the magic key has at last been found to gain city approval to develop the 1.9-acre, trapezoidal-shaped property on Big Bend Boulevard just west of South Geyer Road.

The Kirkwood City Council on Dec. 19 held a double public hearing on a proposal from a company operating as The Townes at Geyer Grove LLC to build 24 row houses on the property one hearing for a rezoning from the current single-family residential to multi-family, and the other for the site plan that is contingent upon the rezoning.

The citys planning and zoning commission endorsed both parts of the plan by unanimous vote in November.

The project would displace five single-family rental homes on the site, which occupy separate lots stretching from 11204 to 11224 Big Bend Blvd., between a Phillips 66 gas station on the east and the Green Tree Montessori pre-school on the west.

On the north and south, the site is wedged between Big Bend Boulevard and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad tracks. The road and the railroad tracks converge a few feet east of the Phillips 66 station, forming a three-way intersection with South Geyer Road.

The major distinction between the Geyer Grove proposal and three others that have preceded it over the past decade is the absence of a throng of residents in the area besieging the city to oppose it.

In 2009, residents first derailed a proposal from the Landco Co. to develop a commercial strip on the property, and later an office building. Then, earlier this year, a large contingent of residents came to a council hearing to protest a proposal by Savoy Properties to build 48 apartment units on the property in a densely packed array of three-story buildings.

Opponents have consistently cited traffic problems in their attacks on developers proposals, saying the Big Bend/Geyer intersection is already severely overcrowded during peak traffic hours.

For the apartment project, opponents also raised objections to the sheer number tenants that would be added to the neighborhood. Speakers raised myriad objections one woman who said she was a teacher from nearby Meramec Community College alleged college students living in the apartments might bring infestations of bed bugs to the complex.

Another objection concerned a large post oak tree on the property, which some said would be left to die, either by outright removal or starvation from a paved-over root field. The current proposal will carefully guard the tree in an irrigated area, where adequate but not overly abundant water will feed its roots, according to Rusty Saunders, landscape architect for the developer. Further, the entire project has been designed in consultation with a professional arborist, and with Kirkwoods arborist, he said.

We will employ the very best practices we can use to preserve these trees, Saunders told the council.

Likewise, the development would be smaller (24 row houses), less imposing (two stories instead of three) and owner-occupied, according to Brad Goss, agent for the petitioner.

The development would increase traffic on Big Bend Boulevard by only about one half of one percent, Kirkwood City Planner Jonathan Raiche said. There would be only one entrance/exit in the development, located on the western end, as far as possible from the Big Bend/Geyer intersection.

John Burns, a resident of the area, was the only one who spoke in opposition to the proposal at the councils meeting last week. He raised concerns about traffic congestion and the potential for creating a bad precedent for shoddy or overly dense future residential development.

Protect the zoning code, Burns told the council. I am not too much in favor of the proposal.

The rezoning portion of the proposal will be on the councils Jan. 2 agenda.

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Construction Of Two Dozen Homes Pending - Webster-Kirkwood Times, Inc.

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