Senior housing approved after a year, multiple hearings due to water issues

Senior housing approved after neighbor negotiations

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Photo by Erin Achenbach

The proposed location of Adworth Senior Living at 1250 and 1301 Adworth Drive.

By Erin Achenbach, Staff Reporter

More senior housing is coming to South County after the St. Louis County Council unanimously approved a conditional-use permit for Adworth Senior Living April 13.

Adworth Senior Living has sought approval for a CUP since July 2019 to build a 3-story facility on 2.83 acres at 1025 and 1031 Adworth Drive, 63125.

The property was previously zoned R-7 residential and is bordered by single-family homes, apartments and a commercial area with Home Depot.

The county Planning Commission voted unanimously in November 2019 to recommend approval, but at the urging of 6th District Councilman Ernie Trakas, whose district the development is in, the council used its power of review and sent the project instead to the Public Improvements Committee, or PIC.

The PIC met once in January 2020 and again in September, and the developer made several amendments to its plan based on feedback from those meetings.

“I just want to state this is a great example of how this County Council and this committee in particular should work. Yes, this matter has been pending for some time, yes, there were significant concerns by the residents,” said Trakas. “But through the process of listening and providing accessibility between the concerned citizens and the developer, they were able to work out their differences to a … solution. I’m very happy with the results.”

Adworth originally asked for a 71-unit senior facility with 50 assisted living units, a theater and 21 memory care units. The building would have varied in height between two and three stories. Under the modified plan, the entire building would be three stories. Its footprint is reduced by 34 percent and moved back from the property line 110 feet instead of 81 feet, plus additional landscaping.

Neighbors’ biggest concern about the proposal was that the development would increase ponding and stormwater runoff, draining off its elevation to residential properties to the north.

At a full County Council meeting in September, the proposal failed to move forward after the council tied 3-3, with Trakas requesting that the motion be withdrawn so the PIC could reconvene to hear from more constituents.

“We are here to hopefully get past the Adworth Senior Living facility,” said council Chairwoman Rita Days, D-Bel Nor, at the March 9 PIC meeting. “We’ve been dealing with this for quite some time.”

Then-Planning Director Gail Choate told council members that modifications had been made to the plan’s setback, footprint and stormwater facilities, and that the modifications had been an ongoing conversation between the developer, engineer and surrounding residents, including an on-site meeting in December. Those conditions were brought up by residents and Trakas, not the planning department or Planning Commission.

“So your office has no problems with the modifications the engineer, the developer and the residents have agreed to,” said Trakas, which Choate agreed was correct.

The additional conditions include the installation of a berm along a portion of the north property line to intercept and collect runoff from the site, as well as the installation of a storm inlet at the northwest corner of the property to divert runoff and prevent it from draining onto the residential properties in the north. The berm will require an offsite grade easement that is subject to the approval of the adjacent property owner and the county.

“I am very appreciative … with Mr. Trakas’ offices for working with the engineer, resident, developer team on-site to see it from an equal perspective, and coming to a very reasonable compromise so we have assurance that we’re doing the best for stormwater runoff,” said Phillip Kaufmann, one of the residents who had originally expressed concern about possible stormwater flowing from the facility. “I trust St. Louis County and MSD (Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District) will give us and the neighborhood and the downstream residents assurance and competency. …”

Civil Engineer Design Consultants Engineer Paul Boyer said that the developer had submitted a conceptual plan to MSD and were comfortable with memorializing the conditions into the CUP.

“I think we’ve reached a solution that we’re all good with,” said Boyer.