Planning panel to consider south county projects

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By Gloria Lloyd
Staff Reporter
news3@callnewspapers.com

The county Planning Commission could decide next week whether to recommend approval of a trio of high-profile zoning decisions in south county.
The planning panel could decide as early as its executive session set for Monday, Dec. 11, whether to vote in favor of a storage facility on Lemay Ferry Road in Oakville, a Freddy’s fast-food restaurant along South Lindbergh Boulevard and a new training center in Oakville for the Mehlville Fire Protection District that will have live burns.
About 70 Oakville residents attended the Lemay Storage facility’s Oct. 16 public hearing, but the county Department of Planning delayed making a recommendation to the panel at its executive session last month because county officials had more questions for the developer, planner Debi Salberg said.
Lemay Storage LLC is seeking to build a self-storage facility with multiple buildings at 5419 Lemay Ferry Road, the current location of a used-car lot. The 4.4-acre, five-building development would include three large gated storage facilities measuring 36,000 square feet, 32,000 square feet, and 20,000 square feet.
The property is bordered by commercial property on the Lemay Ferry corner and by residential property on the other side. Some of the buildings would replace part of a 1.4-acre wooded area that is across from subdivisions, including Bristol Ridge and Providence Pointe.
Resident after resident said they oppose the storage facility because they believe it will bring down their property values. No one spoke in favor.
The site will have no outdoor storage, and lights will reflect on the site rather than toward neighbors, said attorney Vince Keady, who is representing the developer.
Citing reports from “most of the major home developers in St. Louis County,” Keady said, “It’s been my experience that when you add a new development like this and take away a dilapidated building, it’s not going to hurt property values.”
The office buildings will keep typical office hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with 24-hour gated key card access to the 699 storage units.
Speaking on behalf of neighbors, Lathrop & Gage attorney Colleen Ruiz said moving commercial into a residential neighborhood will “upset the harmony” of the area.
The development will be a difficult adjustment for residents who have grown accustomed to having their backyards back up to the “park-like setting” of the woods, she noted.
Buffering may not fix the problem be-cause due to grading differences, Bristol Ridge residents have high decks that would look down into the valley of the site and see the storage whether it’s surrounded by trees or not, Ruiz said.
“It’s interesting to think what they’ll get to see,” she added.
Resident Ron Garascia rallied neighbors against the subdivision in advance of the hearing.
“I don’t like the idea that I’m driving out of my subdivision and all of a sudden I’m facing all these storage units,” he said. “I think it’s bad planning, and there’s no need for it. It’s overkill.”
Freddy’s proposed
Developer and area business owner Daniel Jones is redeveloping the property surrounding Outback Steakhouse at 5240 S. Lindbergh Blvd. and hopes to add the county’s first Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers fast-food restaurant on a new outlot in the Outback parking lot.
Jones contracted to buy the properties at 5240 and 5228 S. Lindbergh Blvd. in September for $3.3 million, according to a real-estate publication.
He bought the property as an investment to “keep in the family,” he noted at the Nov. 13 public hearing where some residents supported the project and some residents opposed it.
The Freddy’s would be a completely new building and drive-thru in what is now part of the parking lot at Outback Steakhouse and the retail center next to it, also part of Jones’ new purchase. He intends to keep Outback, add the outlot and redevelop the other part of the strip with a new building probably focusing on new restaurants, he said.
The new Freddy’s would be surrounded by landscaping which would translate to more green space and less asphalt than the property has now.
Mimosa Lane resident Karl Zickler opposed the project mostly because of the drive-thru, and he suggested that it be built on the vacant site of the former Taco Bell at the corner of Tesson Ferry and Lindbergh.
“To me, fast food with a drive-thru means more cars, more motorcycles, more trash,” Zickler said.
Although the closest side streets to the proposed Freddy’s, Mimosa and Wisteria Lane, back to Lindbergh, Zickler said residents are used to the status quo of living on that heavy corridor.
“Lindbergh is a decent place to live,” he said. “I’ve gotten used to the noise. But I don’t want to add to it.”
Christ Memorial Lutheran Church supports the development, said its representative Dave Nagy. The church owns property in the same retail complex and operates a joint tenant agreement with Jones as it did with the previous owner for part of the retail center set to be redeveloped.
“We think this effort would be an im-provement to the property overall,” Nagy said.
MFPD plans training center
No residents objected at a Nov. 13 hearing on the Mehlville Fire Protection District’s proposed new fire training center at 4471 Baumgartner Road in Oakville.
The fire district purchased the 3-acre property from Canaan Baptist Church for $213,000 in January.
In response to questions from the panel, Fire Marshal Ed Berkel confirmed that the training center will feature live burns as part of firefighter training.
But fires at the training center will likely be “very small primarily just to generate smoke, so it impedes (firefighters’) vision so they’re used to working in that environment,” he said.
No fires will be started when wind is blowing, but some may happen at night since the best practice for training is to also have firefighters train at night, Berkel noted.
The roughly 9,000-square-foot building will have a 1,000-foot tower and a 6,200-square-foot walkout-type basement primarily for storage of backup vehicles, along with training rooms and offices on the first floor.
As for landscaping, commission Chair-man Wayne Hilzinger, who lives in Oak-ville, noted that the fire district has traditionally landscaped all its properties very well “so it doesn’t seem like that will be a problem.”