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 recommends Aldi grocery store, two fast food restaurants

Walmart grocery store rejected earlier at Aldi site
A photorealistic rendering of the proposed Aldi at 13046 Butler Crest Drive. The St. Louis County Planning Commission recommended approval of the proposal 7-0 at its August executive meeting.

The St. Louis County Planning Commission recommended approval of the proposed Aldi grocery store and Chick-fil-A and Chipotle restaurants in Concord at its executive meeting Aug. 7.

Chick-fil-A and Chipotle proposal

First discussed by the commission were the Chick-fil-A and Chipotle proposed at 5240-5245 Towne South Road.

Alrig USA is requesting a change in zoning from a C-8 Planned Commercial District to Amended C-8 Planned Commercial District in order to develop the site, 5240-5245 Towne South Road, into the drive-thru restaurants. On the lot currently is a vacant 1-story Bank of America building, though it would be demolished if this petition is approved.

Built in place of the old bank building would be a roughly 5,300-square-foot Chick-fil-A with a dual drive-thru lane, 74 indoor seats and 24 outdoor seats, as well as a 2,400-square-foot Chipotle with a single drive-thru lane, 46 indoor seats and 20 outdoor seats. The two restaurants would have 116 shared parking spaces, including six accessible parking spaces.

No speakers were in favor of this proposition at the July 17 Public Hearing, with concerns ranging from water runoff from the site, lighting spilling onto neighboring homes and increased traffic. A poll conducted at the end of the hearing showed three community members in favor and 11 opposed or with concern regarding the petition. Despite this, staff recommended approval.

Before a vote was taken at the recent meeting, commission members were able to ask clarifying questions.

Commissioner Bill Sneed had concerns about not having access to the site from Towne South Road, as it was a previous access point.

“County transportation has indicated they would not approve access to this development from Towne South,” Mel Wilson, deputy director of planning, said. “The two curb cuts on Old Tesson would meet the county’s access management guidelines … The developer did submit a traffic impact study that demonstrates that the site could support these uses.”

Jacob Trimble, director of planning, added that two access points on Old Tesson were wanted for truck maneuvers through the site.

Sneed next inquired about the issues of privacy and fencing in regards to the nextdoor daycare center, to which Wilson responded, “Right now, there’s a guardrail … the text … as drafted would require a fence and a landscape buffer there with the option to install a guardrail as well. But there would be more distance and landscaping between these two uses that doesn’t exist today.”

Commissioner Keith Taylor spoke next, questioning if there would be too many fast food restaurants in the area with the addition of these two new restaurants. Though there has not been a significant study on the number of fast food restaurants in unincorporated St. Louis County, Trimble commended Taylor’s thought.

“I think that it is a right conversation for the county to be having,” Trimble said. “To be talking about what is the future of our commercial corridors, what types of uses do we want to be having on our corridors and what do we want those uses to look like so that the next generation of St. Louis Countians can be proud of the community that they live in.”

The next point discussed was the lack of sidewalks in the area, brought up by Commissioner Sandy Hancock. Though individuals would have to cross over Old Tesson Road in order to get to a sidewalk, the developer would not be required to build a sidewalk by the two proposed restaurants.

“I don’t want to speak for the Department of Transportation about the demand on Old Tesson to add an additional sidewalk,” Trimble said. “I would just say that, from my experience, I would say it’s probably not something that’s high on their priority at this point, based on the numbers that they see and the other projects that they have (to) balance.”

Once the conversation finished, a vote was taken, with all commissioners voting in favor and none opposed.

Aldi petition

The commission next discussed the proposal by Aldi Inc. for a 23,000-square-foot store on a 3.97-acre lot at 13047 Butler Crest Drive. The vacant lot is currently zoned for C-2 commercial, though Aldi is requesting a change to a C-8 planned commercial district. 

The proposed grocery store would have 108 parking spaces and three drive entrances to the site. One entrance utilizes an existing entrance from Tesson Ferry Road, while the other two, one existing and the other to be constructed, would be located off Old Tesson Ferry Road. The lot is shared with an existing McDonalds and is across the street from the new “Tesson Ridge” development.

Staff did have some recommended site development plan revisions, such as pervious pavement for excess parking; the addition of native and low maintenance/drought-resistant grasses in graded areas, and monument signage.  Staff also encouraged the developer “to incorporate a local reference to kind of build a sense of community on that intersection.”

Many members of the public had similar thoughts on this proposal as they did on the proposed Chick-fil-A and Chipotle. One speaker at the July 17 public hearing opposed “increasing commercialization of the area, possible increased traffic on Griffin Road, and the dangers such automotive presence poses for neighboring children and other residents” while another “voiced concern over traffic on Butler Hill Road and the potential for exacerbating existing stormwater runoff problems.” The failed development of a Walmart Neighborhood Market was also mentioned, emphasizing that the site is not appropriate for a grocery store. A poll conducted at the end of the public hearing showed two in favor and five opposed to the petition, though staff, yet again, recommended approval.

Sneed once again started the group off with questions, inquiring about the average Aldi size. After a quick Google search it was found that the proposed store, sitting at 23,000 square feet, is modestly larger than the average 17,000-18,000 square feet, but it is nothing out of the ordinary.

Echoing public concerns, a few staff members brought up the previously proposed Walmart, questioning why this store would be allowed if the Walmart was not. There was not a clear answer given on why the Walmart proposal failed, but the hours of operation could have been partly to blame.

In the end, the commission still voted 7-0 in favor of recommending approval of the new development.