Cluster home development plan on Robyn opposed by its neighbor

Letter to the Editor 

To the editor:

The character of our neighborhood is in danger. The Sunset Hills Planning and Zoning Commission recommended to the Board of Aldermen 15 cluster homes on 5.2 acres at 4055 S. Lindbergh Blvd., which abuts Lincoln Drive to the north and Robyn Road to the south.

It is the third attempt to put cluster homes along Robyn Road in the last two years.

The property is currently zoned R-2 residential, which requires 20,000-square-foot lots. Under this plan, the smallest lot is 8,000 square feet, with an average of 9,071. With R-2 zoning, the developer could likely fit seven or eight homes.

It is obvious that the property has more value if the owner can fit more homes.

Cluster homes are characterized by smaller lots with smaller homes that look alike. Many residents who live along Robyn Road, Lincoln Drive and in the Forest Ridge Subdivision where I live appeared and objected to the development.

Despite the objection of all the residents who appeared before the commission, the development plan was approved.

The objections included: The proposal is out of character with the surrounding neighborhood, the proposed homes all have the garage as the dominant architectural feature, the development will cause traffic issues and the homes will be cookie-cutter homes, unlike the homes in the area, which are distinct in character.

Three aspects of the development plan are of particular concern to me: (a) The amendment which reduces the size requirement for the parcel from 10 acres to 5 acres; (b) The revision of the requirement that 25 percent of a cluster development be contiguous to a four-lane highway; and (c) What I consider to be a clear departure from the city’s comprehensive plan.

The reduction in the parcel size for cluster home developments means that many sites throughout the city could be subject to an application for a cluster home development.

It is not difficult to find lots of this size or to cobble together several lots to reach the 5-acre minimum. Once the 25-percent requirement is watered down, it is only a matter of time before it is eliminated entirely, and the city’s staff recommended elimination of this requirement in its report on the Benton Home proposal for cluster homes in February 2017.

The comprehensive plan expresses the desire of many residents to maintain the city’s current character on page 36, enforce current zoning ordinances, retain low-density zoning and protect private property rights on page 36.

If this cluster home development is approved by the Board of Aldermen, it signals a retreat from what has defined a large portion of Sunset Hills — estate-type homes and high-quality residential character, as noted on page 71 of the comprehensive plan.

It also signals that any 5-acre parcel in the city is open to a potential cluster home development. This development is not right for this area or for the city as a whole. I oppose this proposal and hope that you will do so as well. Please contact your alderman or alderwoman and appear before the Board of Aldermen when this proposal comes for a public hearing Oct. 9 to voice your objection.

Gary L. Vincent
Sunset Hills

Editor’s note: Mr. Vincent is a former Crestwood Ward 2 alderman.