South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

Crestwood nixes certain businesses next to redevelopment areas

Aldermen amend measure; Mabie, Miguel are opposed
Crestwood nixes certain businesses next to redevelopment areas

An ordinance restricting certain types of businesses within 300 feet of existing and future redevelopment areas was adopted last week by the Crestwood Board of Aldermen.

Aldermen voted 6-1 Aug. 23 to approve the measure, with Ward 4 Alderman Timothy Anderson opposed. Ward 2 Alderman Mary Stadter was absent.

Among the prohibited uses near redevelopment areas are sexually oriented businesses, taverns, liquor stores, pawnshops, payday-loan and car-title loan establishments and thrift and secondhand stores.

As originally proposed, the measure would have prohibited automotive parts, accessories or tire stores and automotive repair or sales within 300 feet of redevelopment areas, but aldermen voted to amend the ordinance to only prohibit the rental, sales or leasing of automotive vehicles. The amended measure permits tire stores, automotive repairs and the sale of automotive parts and accessories.

Aldermen voted to amend the ordinance after objections were raised by Gary Calvert, owner of Calvert’s Express Auto Service and Tire at 9415 Watson Road.

Calvert purchased the store, which had operated as a Firestone Complete Auto Care since the 1960s, last year for $400,000.

The store is situated on one of two outlots in the 48-acre former Crestwood Plaza, which is being redeveloped by UrbanStreet Group of Chicago as a $104.3 million mixed-use project.

When aldermen began discussing the ordinance, Anderson noted that the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission had considered the measure Aug. 3, but did not recommend it for approval to the board.

Four of the commission’s seven members were present at the meeting.

“… None of the members present were willing to recommend this ordinance to the Board of Aldermen for passage … In the commissioners’ mind, there had not been time for the commission to study the impact of the ordinance to the city on a citywide basis, its consequences and possible unintended consequences,” Anderson said. “I think everyone on the commission supported the idea of having prohibited uses, but this was something that they hadn’t really been able to consider or take into account going forward, and so they were reluctant to say this was something that the board should go and pass at this time. They didn’t feel it was appropriate to enact it at this point without further study.”

Board members discussed whether to send the measure back to the Planning and Zoning Commission for further consideration, but ultimately took no action to do so.

City Planner Adam Jones noted that Calvert’s business had closed earlier this year, but Calvert was in the process of seeking to have his business license reinstated, and had also applied for a conditional-use permit that would permit the sale of used cars at the site.

The prohibited uses in the ordinance also were included in the redevelopment plan with UrbanStreet for the mall site, he said.

“… I would remind the aldermen that these prohibited uses were the brainchild of yourselves whenever we adopted the redevelopment plan,” Jones said. “They’re simply restated in this document because we thought this was more legally binding than what we had adopted in the contract with UrbanStreet. Because the redevelopment is inclusive of two outlots and not just UrbanStreet’s property, it would be a better option to adopt this by ordinance as opposed to adopting it via a contract with a private party …”

Noting he had no problem prohibiting the uses outlined in the ordinance, board President Grant Mabie of Ward 3 said, “I’ll keep my comments limited because I understand the situation can get murky, but I think the city has a more advantageous legal position were this to be passed prior to any proposal to have a used car dealership there brought forward at a later date.”

During a public hearing, Calvert and his attorney, Nicholas Porto, called for the board to eliminate the restrictions on automotive repairs and tire stores.

Calvert bought the property “with the intent of bringing new industry into Crestwood and adding to the city’s economy. He’d like to continue the use within the automotive field. That’s why he bought the property. That’s why he invested in the community …,” Porto said.

Regarding used-car sales at the site, the attorney said, “It is true that he (Calvert) at one point considered — actually we negotiated the lease. He had a very favorable long-term lease in the city of Crestwood for an investor who wanted to sign a long-term lease for a used-car lot … but that lease ultimately failed because of the proposed ordinance. The tenant backed out …”

Calvert since has applied to reopen his store “or possibly use it as some sort of automotive use, including a car dealership,” Porto said.

Calvert told the board that when he opened the Crestwood store, “We weren’t ready. We weren’t ready, so I closed it on a temporary basis.”

After the business closed, the city contacted the store and requested a letter stating it had closed.

“So my employee did that without my permission,” Calvert said.

After the public hearing was closed, Ward 2 Alderman Justin Charboneau began to make a motion to amend the ordinance, but Mabie called for a closed session “to receive confidential communications from the city attorney before we proceed further with this discussion.”

Charboneau and Ward 1 Alderman Darryl Wallach voted against having the closed session.

After the roughly 20-minute closed session, Charboneau made a motion to amend the ordinance to only prohibit the rental, sales or leasing of automotive vehicles.

The amendment was approved with a 5-2 vote. Mabie and Ward 3 Alderman Jerry Miguel were opposed.

“… I think with the redevelopment area here or elsewhere, especially here where we’re expecting some high-end, luxury residences and luxury, high-end retail and things of that nature, I think having an automotive repair business start anew in that location and have the sounds of air wrenches drowning out the sounds of commerce and birds chirping is not necessarily the most appropriate thing to do here,” Mabie said. “And I wish Mr. Calvert the best. I wish he makes a lot of money off this property, whether through its sale or through (another) use, but I feel he can do a lot better and I think it’s in the city’s best interest to approve this ordinance as is …”

Noting that he opposed the amendment, Mabie said, “I do think even with the amendment this ordinance is worthy of passage.”

Aldermen then voted 6-1 to approve the amended measure, with Anderson opposed.

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