Sunset Hills officials clear about Court Drive’s future

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“Call the Tune” by Mike Anthony
Executive Editor
news1@callnewspapers.com

Mike Anthony

We applaud the Sunset Hills Board of Aldermen for voting unanimously last week to reject a proposal for commercial development on Court Drive.
City officials have been steadfast in their actions to ensure the Court Drive and West Watson Road area remains residential — despite the repeated commercial proposals brought forth by Dr. George Despotis of Des Peres.
To be quite honest, we’ve lost count of the number of proposals Despotis has brought forth since 2011 seeking to commercially develop the Court Drive area, much to the chagrin of the residents who live there.
All of Despotis’ proposals have been rejected by city officials.
As readers may recall, the Court Drive and West Watson Road area was the epicenter of the Dec. 31, 2010, category EF3 tornado with winds near 150 mph that tore a path of destruction from just east of the Fox Bridge subdivision along West Watson Road through the South Lindbergh Boulevard intersection.
In the aftermath of the tornado, then-Mayor Bill Nolan told the Call that he had visualized the site as a commercial area properly bermed, fenced and tree-lined with an entrance to Court Drive coming off of West Watson Road.
But when the Planning and Zoning Commission considered changing the city’s comprehensive plan to allow commercial development there, more than 20 people attended a June 1, 2011, public hearing, with the vast majority of speakers opposed. They voiced concerns about commercial encroachment into a residential area and the ensuing additional traffic.
In response, Nolan established the Residential Recovery Task Force, which met throughout the summer of 2011 before recommending the Planning and Zoning Commission amend the comprehensive plan to allow for both single-family residences and attached housing on Court Drive and West Watson Road.
The commission accepted that recommendation in November 2011.
At the same meeting, the planning panel rejected two proposals involving commercial uses for the area, including one from Despotis.
When the commission adopted the city’s new comprehensive plan in 2016, members insisted the Court Drive area remain residential.
City officials repeatedly have made it abundantly clear that their desire is for the Court Drive area to remain residential.
The only person who seems to have not gotten the message is Despotis.