St. Louis Call Newspapers

Board unanimously rejects measure approving firm’s request to modify landscaping plan

Aldermanic president urges board to reject owner’s plan

Justin Charboneau

Justin Charboneau

By Mike Anthony

The Crestwood Board of Aldermen voted unanimously last week to reject the first reading of an ordinance approving a company’s request to modify an existing landscaping plan.

Aldermen turned down a request by Wholesale Siding Depot, 9860 Big Bend Road, to modify its existing landscaping plan at its roughly 2.65-acre site, a proposal that has drawn the ire of nearby residents who voiced their concerns at both the May and June meetings of the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission.

The board’s vote came after a June 27 public hearing in which two speakers representing a group of about eight residents from Chatwood Terrace and Clay Avenue urged the board to reject Wholesale Siding Depot’s proposal. No representative of the company attended the public hearing.

The company’s facility receives and distributes large orders of vinyl siding, accessories, windows and doors, according to City Planner Adam Jones. Modifications requested include replacing several trees and infilling bare areas with new vegetation.

In a June 14 memorandum to City Administrator Kris Simpson, Jones wrote that Julius Krisanic of Wholesale Siding Depot approached the city in early October about the possibility of constructing new accessory storage buildings on the south side of the Big Bend Road property, which borders residences.

In February, city staff received a series of calls from nearby residents that Krisanic was removing vegetation within a required 50-foot buffer, the city planner wrote. Staff visited the site and requested Krisanic “submit a landscape plan showing his plan for replacement of trees and bushes that act as a viewshed buffer for the bordering residential properties before he continues removing any more vegetation,” Jones wrote.

“City staff received a call from a neighboring property (owner) soon thereafter, stating Mr. Krisanic was continuing to remove vegetation. Staff then issued a stop-work order at the site.”

Board President Justin Charboneau of Ward 2 said he could not support Krisanic’s proposal.

“… This process has been going on for a long time. One of the issues that I firmly believe and one of the issues why I ran for office is because I believe Crestwood is a great place to live. I believe it’s a place about community and a place that involves being neighborly …,” he said. “One of the things that really struck me with this whole situation is the gentleman from Wholesale Siding went to talk to the city staff about possibly making some adjustments, let’s say, to his property and business, which was the right thing to do, was to go about and work with city staff …”

City staff informed Krisanic how to request variances “and go about business according to the rules — the rules that every citizen and every business has to live by within Crestwood,” Charboneau added. “It’s unfortunate that that was not followed. The city, in my opinion, went out of their way to work with the group. It was ignored, and it’s sad. That’s not very neighborly. I cannot support this plan as it currently stands …”

The Planning and Zoning Commission voted 5-0 June 7, with two members absent, to recommend that the Board of Aldermen deny Wholesale Siding Depot’s request because it would “adversely affect the character of surrounding commercial uses or adjacent residential uses or of the neighborhood,” he noted.

“… City staff has also said not to approve this plan,” Charboneau said. “I think that the board should send a unanimous message that we will not tolerate incomplete plans and that we should vote ‘no’ against this plan …”

Ward 4 Alderman Tony Kennedy said he met with Krisanic earlier that day and inspected the property on Big Rend Road.

“I think deep down, he has a heart and wants to do the right thing. I think he wants to work with the residents. He wants to maintain his business. He told me that he was not going to be at the meeting tonight. I was not aware that he was not going to send somebody up here to represent him.

“There certainly is room — lots of room for improvement on this property. There’s no doubt about that. There’s also a lot of questions. It looks to me like there’s a lot of things that we as a board don’t know. We really don’t know what the legal setbacks are on the property. I think we might have just found some information tonight. So it would be helpful for the board, I think, to know what’s been done in the past …

“I think it would be helpful to have more facts in front of us so we can help come up with a great solution for the neighbors on both sides, as well as the business …”

In response to Kennedy’s comments, Jones said he had thoroughly researched the property and learned the Board of Aldermen voted in 1995 to approve a site plan and landscape plan for the location with conditions that variances be obtained for a 50-foot side-yard setback and a 6-foot masonry fence. Those variances were never obtained, he said.

In 1995, the property was owned by Warren Peterson, according to county records, and Krisanic purchased the site in January 2016.

For Krisanic’s proposal to construct new accessory storage buildings, the city planner said the business owner was informed that he would have to obtain five to seven variances for the work.

“The feedback from Mr. Krisanic was, the gist was, ‘It’s my property. I can do whatever I want,’ and staff’s response was, ‘Please do not proceed unless you get authorization from the Board of Aldermen, Planning and Zoning and ultimately the Board of Zoning Adjustment,'” Jones said. “Staff received an anonymous phone call from a resident on Clay Avenue, saying that they had noticed Mr. Krisanic had gone ahead and started removing vegetation at the site. Staff responded, showed up at the site, talked to Mr. Krisanic and said, ‘Stop your work. You need to stop removing any vegetation that you haven’t removed already.’

“Mr. Krisanic responded in the affirmative. Staff left. The next day, we received another phone call from another resident — actually, I think three residents that day — and said he was continuing to do the work and that now they could see completely into the site because he had removed so much that they were beginning to get worried and wanted to know what was going on. Staff responded with a stop-work order, to which I believe Mr. Krisanic violated once … He violated that once because he continued working through the stop-work order and after that violation, he ultimately stopped.”

After that, staff met several times with Krisanic to discuss the correct process for proceeding, Jones said, adding the property owner’s response “always has been either he doesn’t understand or that he doesn’t want to follow the rules …”

Residents Michael Morris of Chatwood Terrace and Jim Duff of Clay Avenue urged aldermen not to approve Krisanic’s request. Both spoke in opposition to the proposal at the June 7 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.

About the Writer

Board unanimously rejects measure approving firm’s request to modify landscaping plan

Aldermanic president urges board to reject owner’s plan

Justin Charboneau

Justin Charboneau

By Mike Anthony

The Crestwood Board of Aldermen voted unanimously last week to reject the first reading of an ordinance approving a company’s request to modify an existing landscaping plan.

Aldermen turned down a request by Wholesale Siding Depot, 9860 Big Bend Road, to modify its existing landscaping plan at its roughly 2.65-acre site, a proposal that has drawn the ire of nearby residents who voiced their concerns at both the May and June meetings of the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission.

The board’s vote came after a June 27 public hearing in which two speakers representing a group of about eight residents from Chatwood Terrace and Clay Avenue urged the board to reject Wholesale Siding Depot’s proposal. No representative of the company attended the public hearing.

The company’s facility receives and distributes large orders of vinyl siding, accessories, windows and doors, according to City Planner Adam Jones. Modifications requested include replacing several trees and infilling bare areas with new vegetation.

In a June 14 memorandum to City Administrator Kris Simpson, Jones wrote that Julius Krisanic of Wholesale Siding Depot approached the city in early October about the possibility of constructing new accessory storage buildings on the south side of the Big Bend Road property, which borders residences.

In February, city staff received a series of calls from nearby residents that Krisanic was removing vegetation within a required 50-foot buffer, the city planner wrote. Staff visited the site and requested Krisanic “submit a landscape plan showing his plan for replacement of trees and bushes that act as a viewshed buffer for the bordering residential properties before he continues removing any more vegetation,” Jones wrote.

“City staff received a call from a neighboring property (owner) soon thereafter, stating Mr. Krisanic was continuing to remove vegetation. Staff then issued a stop-work order at the site.”

Board President Justin Charboneau of Ward 2 said he could not support Krisanic’s proposal.

“… This process has been going on for a long time. One of the issues that I firmly believe and one of the issues why I ran for office is because I believe Crestwood is a great place to live. I believe it’s a place about community and a place that involves being neighborly …,” he said. “One of the things that really struck me with this whole situation is the gentleman from Wholesale Siding went to talk to the city staff about possibly making some adjustments, let’s say, to his property and business, which was the right thing to do, was to go about and work with city staff …”

City staff informed Krisanic how to request variances “and go about business according to the rules — the rules that every citizen and every business has to live by within Crestwood,” Charboneau added. “It’s unfortunate that that was not followed. The city, in my opinion, went out of their way to work with the group. It was ignored, and it’s sad. That’s not very neighborly. I cannot support this plan as it currently stands …”

The Planning and Zoning Commission voted 5-0 June 7, with two members absent, to recommend that the Board of Aldermen deny Wholesale Siding Depot’s request because it would “adversely affect the character of surrounding commercial uses or adjacent residential uses or of the neighborhood,” he noted.

“… City staff has also said not to approve this plan,” Charboneau said. “I think that the board should send a unanimous message that we will not tolerate incomplete plans and that we should vote ‘no’ against this plan …”

Ward 4 Alderman Tony Kennedy said he met with Krisanic earlier that day and inspected the property on Big Rend Road.

“I think deep down, he has a heart and wants to do the right thing. I think he wants to work with the residents. He wants to maintain his business. He told me that he was not going to be at the meeting tonight. I was not aware that he was not going to send somebody up here to represent him.

“There certainly is room — lots of room for improvement on this property. There’s no doubt about that. There’s also a lot of questions. It looks to me like there’s a lot of things that we as a board don’t know. We really don’t know what the legal setbacks are on the property. I think we might have just found some information tonight. So it would be helpful for the board, I think, to know what’s been done in the past …

“I think it would be helpful to have more facts in front of us so we can help come up with a great solution for the neighbors on both sides, as well as the business …”

In response to Kennedy’s comments, Jones said he had thoroughly researched the property and learned the Board of Aldermen voted in 1995 to approve a site plan and landscape plan for the location with conditions that variances be obtained for a 50-foot side-yard setback and a 6-foot masonry fence. Those variances were never obtained, he said.

In 1995, the property was owned by Warren Peterson, according to county records, and Krisanic purchased the site in January 2016.

For Krisanic’s proposal to construct new accessory storage buildings, the city planner said the business owner was informed that he would have to obtain five to seven variances for the work.

“The feedback from Mr. Krisanic was, the gist was, ‘It’s my property. I can do whatever I want,’ and staff’s response was, ‘Please do not proceed unless you get authorization from the Board of Aldermen, Planning and Zoning and ultimately the Board of Zoning Adjustment,'” Jones said. “Staff received an anonymous phone call from a resident on Clay Avenue, saying that they had noticed Mr. Krisanic had gone ahead and started removing vegetation at the site. Staff responded, showed up at the site, talked to Mr. Krisanic and said, ‘Stop your work. You need to stop removing any vegetation that you haven’t removed already.’

“Mr. Krisanic responded in the affirmative. Staff left. The next day, we received another phone call from another resident — actually, I think three residents that day — and said he was continuing to do the work and that now they could see completely into the site because he had removed so much that they were beginning to get worried and wanted to know what was going on. Staff responded with a stop-work order, to which I believe Mr. Krisanic violated once … He violated that once because he continued working through the stop-work order and after that violation, he ultimately stopped.”

After that, staff met several times with Krisanic to discuss the correct process for proceeding, Jones said, adding the property owner’s response “always has been either he doesn’t understand or that he doesn’t want to follow the rules …”

Residents Michael Morris of Chatwood Terrace and Jim Duff of Clay Avenue urged aldermen not to approve Krisanic’s request. Both spoke in opposition to the proposal at the June 7 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.

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Board unanimously rejects measure approving firm’s request to modify landscaping plan