I expressed concern in my November blog article about explosive growth in St. Charles County, including the 300 percent increase of apartment units in the last two years. There has recently been a submittal to the St. Charles County Planning and Zoning Commission for a rezoning from Agricultural District to R1A (1-acre minimum lot size) to R1E Residential District (7,000 sq. ft. minimum lot size) for the purpose of developing an approximate 556-home subdivision near Frontier Middle School, down Highway DD all the way to Schwede Road.
This request is being made by developer Jeff Kolb and builder Lombardo Homes. If this land is 15 percent or more contiguous with the city limits of O’Fallon, the City could annex the property and the development would likely move quickly to build small lot subdivisions within the city limits with even more homes than the plan presented to the County. The developer is claiming it is 15 percent contiguous, but that has not yet been verified.
The problem is our annexation laws. Some cities are aggressive in their desire to grow. They believe that being the biggest and most populated city is good for its existing residents! HOW WRONG THEY ARE!
The developer will be coming before the St. Charles County Planning and Zoning Commission to request a rezoning from the Agricultural District to a number of Residential Districts. St. Charles County has several residential district types such as, RR (Rural Residential) – 3-acre minimum lot size; R1A – 1-acre minimum lot size; R1B – 20,000 sq. ft. minimum lot size; R1C – 15,000 sq. ft. minimum lot size; R1D – 10,000 sq. ft. minimum lot size; and R1E – 7,000 sq. ft. minimum lot size. Most of this development will be zoned R1E.
I find many reasons why this type of large development is not a good fit for this area. First and foremost, the St. Charles County 2030 Master Plan shows Low Density Residential (1-4 homes per acre) and Rural Residential (3 acres per lot) on most of this development area. Most of the rezoning request is for 4-6 homes per acre in the proposed R1E Residential Districts. This development would back up to Busch Wildlife and sit very near to Broemmelsiek Park, both of which are wildlife preserves. Also, this type of development would add approximately 3,000 cars daily on Highway DD, and be a major burden on the public safety, road infrastructure, schools and water systems which would all impact the current surrounding residents.
If the area is 15 percent or more contiguous with the city limits of O’Fallon, it puts us in a bad position. Present annexation laws force us to work and negotiate with the developer on lot sizes. Otherwise, O’Fallon will annex the property, march right in, and open up the area for even more growth and density. By the County approving and retaining oversight of this development, the chances of maintaining smaller lot subdivisions further in this area in the future are better.
Most people live in our county with its rural areas because they love the way it is, but local decision-makers are destroying it by pushing the notion that it is necessary to be the fastest growing county in Missouri. That is not a badge of honor, but a huge burden to the taxpayers by creating a city urban area that many have fled to get away from.
The St. Charles County Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on this plan is at 7 p.m., June 21, at the Family Arena to accommodate the potential for an influx of concerned residents to have public discussion on this subject. Please show up to express your opinion. Also watch for postings for information on public information meetings as well.