By Erin Achenbach
The Sunset Hills Board of Aldermen took a number of actions on different bills and resolutions at their Feb. 12 meeting. The board also discussed various city matters.
Cluster Home Vote Delay – Again
The board was slated to hold a second reading on three bills regarding Fischer & Frichtel Custom Homes LLC’s cluster home development at Lindbergh Boulevard, Lincoln Drive and Robyn Road. However, Fischer & Frichtel requested to have the second readings postponed until the March 12 meeting due to the absence of Ward 4 Alderman Mark Colombo and Ward 1 Alderman Dee Baebler.
That did not stop residents who live near the proposed development from speak out against it during public comment.
On Feb. 4, a petition by 10 residents who live within 185 feet of the district where the cluster homes would be built was submitted to City Administrator Eric Sterman, who accepted the petition. The protest meets the requirement under city code mandating that bills related to the development have to pass with a supermajority vote.
Reconsidering commercial signage on vehicles
The majority of the board voted for a bill that repeals restrictions on commercial vehicles, but with four “yes” votes, the bill did not get the five votes needed to pass any ordinance.
Under current code, commercial vehicles are required to display signage that indicates that they are commercial vehicles.
Aldermen against repealing the restrictions said it’s a matter of safety.
“I do think it’s a general rule meant to encourage safety,” said Ward 2 Alderman Casey Wong after the bill was first considered at the Jan. 8 meeting. “I think a lot of our predominantly female residents probably appreciate a lot more if we kept the ordinance as is and didn’t repeal it.”
Other aldermen have said that it is an unneeded burden on businesses.
The bill got a 4-2 vote, with Ward 3 Aldermen Nathan Lipe and Krueger voting to repeal the restrictions along with Ward 2 Alderman Steve Bersche and Ward 4 Alderman Thompson Price. Wong and Ward 1 Alderman Ann McMunn voted against repealing the restrictions.
But a five-member majority is needed to pass legislation. Ward 4 Alderman Mark Colombo and Ward 1 Alderman Dee Baebler were absent.
At the Feb. 26 work session, Bersche requested that City Attorney Robert E. Jones draft another proposed ordinance to repeal restrictions on commercial vehicles for a first reading at the next meeting.
“Maybe it’ll get shot down again, but I just want to bring it back one more time,” Bersche said.
The board established an annual registry of rental properties in the city, after previous attempts failed.
This is not the first time the idea appeared before the board. In May 2017, the board struck down an ordinance that would require the annual registry with an effective start date of Jan. 1, 2018. The measure failed to pass when it was voted against 7-1, with Lipe the only vote in support.
At the Feb. 12 meeting, Lipe motioned to suspend the rules and do a second reading of the bill. This time it was approved by a vote of 5-1, with Wong as the dissenting vote.
The rationale behind the ordinance is “to identify those properties citywide that are being rented to the public” for code enforcement and emergency situations and “to proactively identify substandard and deteriorated rental housing stock…in order to aid in the preserving, maintaining and upgrading of those neighborhoods.”
The board also passed two resolutions awarding contracts to Reinhold Electric and Bates Electric.
The $193,780 contract with Reinhold Electric will be used to fix the athletic field poles and lights at the city’s public athletic fields.
The $26,985 contract with Bates Electric will restore electrical service for the driving range at the former Sunset Lakes Golf Course. Sunset Hills will be operating the driving range at the course. The city acquired the 122-acre course on West Watson Road from former owner Steve Bander, a physician from Des Peres who announced in September that he would donate the golf course. The city closed on the course at the end of November.
Parks Director Gerald Brown informed the board that the St. Louis County Municipal Parks Grant Commission had approved the city’s request to use the funds originally designated for a bathroom at Eschbach Park be used for a bathroom at Lynstone Park instead.
In 2016 the commission awarded the city a $100,000 grant to build bathroom facilities at Minnie Ha Ha Park, Kitun Park and Eschbach Park, after the aldermen rejected using the same grant to build waterslides at the Aquatic Center.
At the November Board of Aldermen meeting, outcry from residents of the Forest View Subdivision, near where the bathroom facilities would be built in Eschbach Park, led the board to reconsider.
Residents expressed their concerns that the proposed facilities could attract unsavory nighttime activity to the area. The board scrapped the plan to build the facilities at Eschebach and requested that Brown talk to the commission to see if the grant could be used to build bathrooms at a different park.
At the Feb. 12 meeting, Brown said that over 220 letters had been sent to residents who live near Lynstone Park and that he has received no negative feedback about the proposed bathrooms.
Marijuana not sold in city — at least yet
Mayor Pat Fribis also squashed rumors that had been going around on Facebook that Sunset Hills had the first store in Missouri that was legally selling marijuana.
“That is totally false,” said Fribis.
While marijuana is not being sold legally in the city, the rumors could have come from a new business that opened in Sunset Hills, CBD Kratom, located on South Lindbergh. The store sells legal, hemp-based products free of THC, the psychoactive element found in marijuana.
Sterman said he visited the store and confirmed that all products they are selling are legal. The new store is one of 10 CBD Kratom storefronts in the St. Louis region.
One of the company’s billboards advertising the Sunset Hills store is on Interstate 55.
Lipe expressed concern about the company’s signage and billboards that feature a large marijuana leaf, but Jones said that there was little the city could do about it so long as the signage didn’t contain lewd content.