Aldermen in Sunset Hills reject permit for temporary produce tent

Aldermen worry permit could cause Lindbergh to look like a ‘tent city’

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By Erin Achenbach, Staff Reporter

The Sunset Hills Board of Aldermen unanimously denied a permit last month that would have allowed a fresh produce stand to operate on Lindbergh Boulevard from May through August.

Figge’s Produce wanted to hold a small farmers market with pop-up tents at 3825 S. Lindbergh Blvd. The market would have been open weekends from May 14 through Aug. 29 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Ward 1 Alderman Ann McMunn pulled the plan from the consent agenda for discussion. She noted that pop-up tents have not been allowed in Sunset Hills, except for the Stanley Cup pop-up tent in 2019 that was only up for a short time.

“I think this is a wonderful idea and wonderful concept to bring to Sunset Hills. I just can’t get behind tents on Lindbergh Boulevard,” said McMunn. “I don’t know what kind of precedent this might set, we could have Lindbergh Boulevard looking like a tent city.”

Some aldermen also inquired about a different proposed plan from Figge’s Produce not on the agenda to eventually erect a permanent structure at the location.

A petition was approved in March by the city’s Board of Adjustment for John Figge to construct a commercial building at the property where he wants to have the farmers market.

Figge currently leases the property and wants to turn his produce store into something more permanent, but was told that it would not be approved by St. Louis County until late August. Because the site is zoned C-1 commercial, the retail use is a permitted use and it will not appear before the aldermen or the planning committee.

“He did need some leeway for my understanding of where the building would be located, some variances. Those were recently approved by the Board of Adjustment,” said City Administrator Brittany Gillett. “He applied … through St. Louis County and was told that it would not be approved until at least August. He was hoping to be in Sunset Hills for the summer to get his business moving forward.”

Operating the farmers market from the tent on the site would be a “temporary permit” until Figge gets the permanent structure permits from the county, added Gillett.

“If he wants to come back and guarantee a better facility or a trailer or whatever that is not indicative of a sideshow-type look, I’d be glad to reconsider that but as a tent, I’m not a fan of that,” said Ward 3 Alderman Randy Epperson, motioning to deny the special event permit.

Other aldermen were confused by the special event permit’s site plan, which showed three tents instead of just one, while Mayor Pat Fribis said that she saw a proposed metal trailer.