Council advances bill to temporarily halt issuance of demolition permits by county

Staff report

The County Council last week advanced legislation that would temporarily halt the issuance of new demolition permits.

But the council held a bill that would change the county’s building code to require owners of certain properties to completely clear and restore a site after demolition.

Council members voted 6-1 on Jan. 11 to give initial approval to a bill that would impose a 180-day moratorium on the issuance of new demolition permits for buildings 100,000 square feet or larger that were used for commercial, industrial or manufacturing purposes. Seventh District Councilman Greg Quinn, R-Ballwin, was opposed.

The bill, once approved, would replace a moratorium that began Dec. 20.

Sixth District Council Chairman Steve Stenger, D-south county, ordered the council delay final passage of the building code amendment for further discussion.

That bill, introduced last month by now-former Fifth District Councilwoman Barbara Fraser, D-University City, would require owners of all commercial and industrial properties to restore the sites to their pre-built condition if they are demolished.

Proponents of the bill, including County Executive Charlie Dooley, contend it would curb the practice of property owners abandoning sites once they’re demolished and leaving behind contaminants that could harm the public.

The legislation also could help stimulate economic development because restored properties would be more appealing to prospective tenants, who in turn would bring jobs to the county, Stenger has contended.

But representatives from the Missouri Growth Association, the St. Louis Association of Realtors and the St. Louis Council of Construction Consumers have said the ordinance is too broad. Complete building removal and site restoration may be too costly for some property owners, who may decide to just leave behind an empty building, they have contended.

Stenger said after last week’s council meeting the bill may be changed to address some of the concerns raised.