Planning panel reviews cluster home proposal


By Lucas Irizarry, Staff Reporter

The Sunset Hills Planning Commission gave suggestions at its Oct. 6 meeting for changes to a redevelopment of six lots just off South Kirkwood Road.

The petitioner submitted a plan to tear down current houses to put eight attached single family homes on the properties. The change would require a change from R-6 Single Family Residential zoning to PD-RC Planned Development – Residential/Cluster Homes and would require some amendments to city code in the area. This includes how many dwellings can be within 16 feet of each other, how much of the lot is adjacent to highways and how much common ground is needed.

Architect Joe  Weidemeier said he and the petitioner realized the density of the lots weren’t appreciated last year, so he wants some guidance moving forward. The proposed homes are around 2,500 square feet and should have a more “high-end” design according to Weidemeier. The lot is 0.72 acres.

Commissioners said the new proposal wouldn’t be appealing due to lack of green space, or any space at all, and thought neighbors wouldn’t be happy looking at a “wall of houses.”

“I wouldn’t want to discourage you from trying to improve this part of our community … however, I feel your density for this neighborhood is a bit too high, and I don’t know if I were across the street I would be very pleased by this wall of units,” Chairman Terry Beiter said. “I’m not sure they’re very appealing. There just isn’t much green space.”

Weidemeier protested the “wall of homes” sentiment.

“I challenge the idea that this is a wall, and I would assist my challenge with a more appealing architectural treatment of the building elevations,” Wedemayer said.

Cluster homes are a contentious topic in the city and a bulk of the discussion around the city’s zoning code rewrite has focused on cluster home developments.

In mid-2019,  the city discussed changes to the zoning code that some residents believed would make it easier for cluster home developments to be built. The discussion was met with much ire from the public, citing concerns about developers essentially taking over parts of the city.

The  year prior, developer Fischer & Frichtel submitted a proposal to turn the Krueger Property at the intersection of Lindbergh Boulevard, Robyn Road and Lincoln Drive into a 12-home “luxury villa” development. The developer eventually withdrew its proposal after outrage from nearby residents. 

The zoning code rewrite is still a work in progress and Weidemeier said it will be tough to move forward with any changes without knowing if or when the code will be passed. 

Commissioners did suggest looking at duplexes on the property which Weidemeier said could be possible.