Panel recommends denial of special permit

By Lucas Irizarry, Staff Reporter

A plan to utilize a home on Gravois Road and Vasel Drive in Affton for a Farmer’s Insurance location was recommended for denial by the St. Louis County Planning Commission April 26.

The plan included adding a renewable special business permit to the site, plus additional parking on the driveway. Petitioners Gregory and Lois Mans currently operate down the street from the location and purchased the house after it had been vacant for three months.

At a public hearing on March 29, many neighbors and residents of the home’s subdivision spoke against the change, citing sight-lines, parking and more businesses potentially moving in. 

County staff recommended approval of the plan to the commission in April, adding several conditions like removal of an on-site walkway, limiting the parking to four spots, a decorative fence installation, reducing overall pavement additions and improving plantings.

Acting Director of Planning Jacob Trimble said staff found the parking lot and street parking would not impact sight-lines as citizens pointed out. 

“Staff finds that an insurance office is low traffic generating for vehicles and max there would be three staff,” Trimble said. “Because of the limited nature of how insurance offices operate, staff finds that one car here and there on Vasel at any given time is not detrimental to the neighborhood.”

Commissioner Bill Sneed said he didn’t disagree with staff’s findings on the site, but the commercial aspect of the site will “change the character” of the community for the duration of the special business permit. 

“If that was a subdivision I lived in, I would be against it. I think it does change the community. It does not consider the other homes … just because it borders Gravois,” Sneed said. 

Sneed said the parking specifically would make it stand out from the rest of the neighborhood. 

The commission voted 5-1 to recommend denial to the County Council. Commissioner Gary Elliott was the lone no vote.