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

Panel balks at power of review ordinance

Crestwood City Hall
Photo by Gloria Lloyd
Crestwood City Hall

Members of the Crestwood Planning and Zoning Commission are not happy with an ordinance under consideration by the city’s Board of Aldermen in recent meetings.

The ordinance provides more specific rules for when the board can call for review of planning commission decisions. It gives 48 hours for the city planner to give a report of review-eligible items to the board. If the report is given within that time, the board has five days to call for review — if not, the board would have 10 days to call for review. Any alderman could call for the review and it would have to be approved by a majority of the board.

The ordinance was tabled in the past to allow Ward 4 Alderman Tony Kennedy, the commission’s aldermanic representative, to present it to the commission and gather feedback.

Kennedy said the need for review has never happened, and the bill was proposed by Mayor Grant Mabie to allow for a failsafe if a tabling by the commission would jeopardize the viability of a matter.

Several members of the Planning and Zoning Commission felt the ordinance went “too far” while questioning wording throughout.

Commissioner Andrew Meyerkord asked if petitioners would have to prove a hardship to get a matter up for review, but City Attorney Lisa Stump said the decision comes down to the board.

“It’s really going to be up to the situation and up to the board if they pick it up,” Stump said. “In their discussion it was clear they’re not planning on doing that unless there is a unique circumstance where it was necessary.”

Meyerkord said there should be a definition of hardship and a process to prove a project would be jeopardized. 

Commissioner Jordan Wilkinson pointed out the ordinance is lacking distinction on what matters can be considered — it would not only apply to petitions by applicants, but any matter the commission considers. 

“If this is just a blanket mechanism where anything we review and table can get bypassed, I’m against that,” Wilkinson said. “We’re here for a reason.”

Wilkinson expressed his frustration with matters regarding the Crestwood Crossing development, and Meyerkord and Vice Chairman Greg Zipfel echoed his concerns. The commissioners approved a development plan earlier in the meeting for Crestwood Crossing — a plan which the commission voted to recommend denial of a preliminary copy in October. 

The plan was subsequently approved by aldermen and went mostly unchanged since, resulting in the commission’s approval.

“Sometimes it is important for the commission to table items until we get the appropriate data to render an opinion,” Zipfel said. “I’ve been very upset with many of the goings-on that have occurred in the past year or so, especially surrounding the development of the Crestwood Mall site. None of them have gotten me to the point of considering resigning from the commission much like this has.”

Zipfel said the ordinance felt like an attempt by the mayor and aldermen to strip powers away from the commission.

“We give our time freely and we are all educated professionals, some of us have done this for many, many years,” Zipfel said. “Speaking for those of us … of the senior variety like myself, we feel like we aren’t listened to by the Board of Aldermen. No single topic has gotten me to the point of feeling the frustration that I do with the first reading of this garbage here.”

The ordinance was scheduled to be discussed by the board at its meeting April 12 — after The Call went to press.

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