Grantwood Village board takes next step toward potential annexation of 95 acres

Staff Report

An ordinance to submit a plan of intent to annex roughly 95 acres previously owned by Grant’s Farm Manor Inc. was unanimously approved last week by the Grantwood Village Board of Trustees.

The Board of Trustees adopted the ordinance during a special meeting June 30 — one day before the deadline to submit plans of intent to the St. Louis County Boundary Commission, which reviews all proposals affecting the boundaries of incorporated and unincorporated areas of the county.

Grantwood Village trustees had voted in June 2006 to submit a map plan to the Boundary Commission outlining two areas in which the village potentially was interested in annexing — one area that included Grasso Plaza and a second area that at the time was targeted by a consortium of developers as a retirement community.

Village Attorney Emily Kelly said during the special meeting, “… Back in 2006, the village submitted a map plan identifying two different areas of possible interest of annexation, one of which is Grasso Plaza, which has since been abandoned, meaning the village is no longer interested in pursuing that, at least at this time.

“And then the other parcel is what’s commonly known as the Busch property …,” she said, referring to Grant’s Farm Manor that previously was owned by Andy Busch.

That area was identified as roughly 95 acres “of substantially undeveloped land,” according to Grantwood Village’s original map-plan proposal.

“The property is bounded on the west by Musick Road, on the north by Gravois Road — primarily opposite Grant’s Farm,” the map-plan proposal states. “Along its eastern border lies Cor Jesu Academy and Sunset Memorial Park. It is partially dissected by Grant’s Trail. On its southern border is unincorporated St. Louis County residential and Affton Athletic Association. McNary Road — northern access to Affton Athletic — also dissects this tract, west of Grant’s Trail.”

The village attorney noted that after the village submitted its map plan back in 2006, a public hearing was conducted and the Boundary Commission accepted comments on the proposal.

“The next step after you submit a map plan and after you have the public hearing and comments is to file what’s called a plan of intent,” she said. “And the plan of intent is kind of a long complicated and convoluted process, but effectively it’s an application that the village has to submit to the Boundary Commission that effectively describes what it is that we’re interested in taking, identifying different sorts of factors for why we’re interested in annexing it …”

After the plan of intent is submitted, a public hearing will be conducted, Kelly said.

“… If they (Boundary Commission officials) determine that we have met all the requirements for the plan of intent, the next step is they will say: Grantwood Village, we give you authority to have an election. At that point, there will be an election to determine whether or not we will actually annex that property. This is sort of a unique situation because there’s no residents that live in that annexed property …,” she said. “But at this point, they don’t have any residents that live there and so the election would really just be for Grantwood Village …”

Erickson Retirement Communities had proposed constructing 1,500 units on more than 80 acres of the former Busch property, but later filed for bankruptcy and was sold, effectively killing plans for the proposed retirement community. Before that occurred, however, Busch sold six acres to Cor Jesu Academy, and Erickson, which had purchased the remaining property from Busch, agreed to donate an additional nine acres of common ground to the private school. The sale and donation of the property doubled the size of Cor Jesu Academy’s campus.

Grantwood Village residents had vigorously opposed the development of the retirement community.

Before the board voted to adopt the ordinance, Chairman Cathy Forand opened the floor to public comments and the near-capacity crowd at the Town Hall indicated their support for submitting the plan of intent to the Boundary Commission.