Board eyes second reading of measure for library CUP

Petition opposing library plan submitted to city’s aldermen

By Mike Anthony

The second reading of an ordinance that would grant a conditional-use permit to operate a library on the former Paraclete Fathers property at 13270 Maple Drive was set to be conducted earlier this week by the Sunset Hills Board of Aldermen.

The Board of Aldermen was scheduled to meet Tuesday night — after the Call went to press.

A public hearing was conducted Feb. 26 by aldermen on Alwal B. Moore’s request for a conditional-use permit, or CUP, to operate a library at the 10-acre site originally owned by Joseph “Papa Joe” Griesedieck.

Moore purchased the property in January 2010 with the goal of preserving the historic buildings on the site. He hoped the property could be utilized as a park, but the city did not have the funds available to purchase the site.

At the Planning and Zoning Commission’s August meeting, Moore requested a CUP to operate a cultural center on the site.

During a public hearing, nearby residents voiced concerns about access to Moore’s property through the private streets of the three Tapawingo subdivisions, the potential for increased traffic on those private streets and the safety of the neighborhood.

After meeting with Tapawingo residents Aug. 31, Moore sent an email to city officials announcing he no longer intended to operate a cultural center on the site, but in-stead requested a CUP to operate a library.

In October, the Planning and Zoning Commission voted to recommend denial of Moore’s CUP request.

During the public hearing Feb. 26, nine residents voiced their opposition to Moore’s proposal, while one resident spoke in favor of it.

Resident Tim Strege, who opposes Moore’s proposal, said he was speaking on behalf of several of his neighbors.

Of Moore’s proposal, neighbors believe plans for the library are “too vague,” he said. “They don’t give a lot of specifics …”

Strege submitted a protest petition to the Board of Aldermen that was signed by 21 of the 31 properties within 185 feet of the site.

“… The petitioners have been directly told the concerns of the residents, who have asked repeatedly to put these details in writing. But they have not done so,” he said. “Twenty-one of the 31 properties, or 68 percent, that are within 185 feet of the property have submitted notarized signatures … protesting the library. It’s hard to get 68 percent of people to do anything, much less get notarized signatures. So that should be an indication of what the immediate neighbors think of this particular plan …”

Under city ordinance, a valid protest petition requires the signatures of 30 percent of the property owners within 185 feet of the library site. A valid protest petition would require a two-thirds’ majority vote of all aldermen to approve the ordinance granting a CUP for a library.

Roughly 166 properties are situated within the three Tapawingo subdivisions, Strege said.

“We have 101 signatures, 61 percent, that have signed a protest petition,” he said. “Fourteen people who were asked to sign it declined. The rest of the properties … we never caught up with the people …”

Citing the number of residents opposed to the proposal, Strege said, “The residents are telling you that this is adversely affecting the character of the neighborhood …”