Sunset Hills OKs blighting procedures

By Robert Chalupny

An ordinance authorizing the city of Sunset Hills to implement blighting and redevelopment procedures under Chapter 353 of state statutes recently was approved by the Board of Aldermen.

Sunset Hills aldermen voted unanimously last week to approve the ordinance, taking one more step toward the redevelopment of a 2.9-acre tract that currently houses two brick homes and a mobile-home park.

Mayor James A. Hobbs and City Attorney Robert C. Jones both indicated a public hearing would be conducted at the next Board of Aldermen meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 11, to solicit residents’ comments.

The Board of Aldermen last month approved a resolution naming the South Lind-bergh Redevelopment Co. as the developer for the 2.9-acre site.

Preliminary plans indicate that the developer would place a retail center on the property and possibly some office space.

However; the owners of the property, Carl and Lucia Bossert, have said that they have another developer who wants to buy the property from them.

Lucia Bossert told the Call last month that she was concerned about getting a fair price for her and her husband’s property.

If the property is blighted and taken through eminent domain, the Bosserts would receive “fair market value” for their property, which would be determined by an appointed committee and most likely would be less than if they sold the property on the competitive market.

If that were to happen and the Bosserts were not satisfied with the “fair market value” assigned to their property, they would have the option of pursuing legal action.

Jones told the Call that if the property owner came in with another developer, they would consider a proposal emphasizing that there is nothing set in stone with the South Lindbergh Redevelopment Co.

“The owners have hired a lawyer who has talked to me on several occasions. If the owners came in with some kind of redevelopment and it was OK, the board could very well say fine, but we don’t have anything from them yet,” he said.

Bob Angle, a resident who lives next to the two brick homes, expressed his concerns about the possible redevelopment of the property.

“The reason for my concern, that is the right word, is that I am concerned about what will happen with that small strip of property that now constitutes the lots for those two homes,” Angle said. I have heard rumors that that little area may end up being a driveway exiting onto East Watson.”

“So I’m concerned about traffic patterns if that … area becomes a driveway so to speak. I’m also concerned, because my property borders this property, as to how the current residences on Rygate and this property will be buffered,” Angle said.

Hobbs interjected that the ordinance was just procedural.

“Tonight is just procedural,” Hobbs said. “We do not have any actual development plan in front of us telling us exactly what would take place in this area, but your concerns are legitimate and would be addressed at the time we received the development plan.”

Angle asked the board why they were moving forward without knowing what development would take place.

“Can I just simply say if I can, I heard one of you gentlemen say earlier this evening that you were concerned about changing ordinances or changing zoning prior to knowing what we’re going to be developing. At least that was my interpretation,” Angle said. “That is my concern. We are doing something here before we know what the layout is and the design is.”

Angle started to return to his seat when Ward 1 Alderman Joseph Rathert asked him about his experience living near the properties in question.

“Those mobile homes that are there, do you have any problems with those residents in terms of noise, property, destruction of your property?” Rathert asked.

Angle responded, “None whatsoever.”

Another resident from the area, Kathryn Heese, voiced her concerns about the possibility of the redevelopment of the area.

“I understand that this is just a procedural hearing about this, but I did view the plans that are on file in the office and we just have a number of questions regarding the buffer zone,” Heese said. “I guess we all have concerns with regards to what is going there, if you’re going to blight the area then maybe it’s a better use, maybe it’s not.”

Jones clarified the city’s intention regarding the ordinance and the property.

“We are anticipating a public hearing on Nov. 11. We have not gotten a final proposal from anyone. The property owners have indicated that they are dealing with two or three other people. Right now, we don’t have anything by the way of a development,” he said.

Jones said that even if the property is not declared blighted, the city should pass the ordinance in case it would ever need to use it in the future.