Two newcomers facing off in race for Ward 4 alderman in Sunset Hills

Ward 4 candidates discuss their positions on city issues

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Fred Daues, left, and Bruce Studer.

By Erin Achenbach, Staff Reporter

Read more questions and answers from candidates in the Feb. 25 issue of The Call.

Two newcomers to public office are squaring off to replace Ward 4 Alderman Mark Colombo on the Sunset Hills Board of Aldermen this April.

Fred Daues and Bruce Studer are running for the Ward 4 seat after incumbent Colombo did not file again. Look for more information on both candidates in a future issue.

The candidates gave the following responses to a Call candidate questionnaire:

What is the single most important issue in this race? 

Daues: “City government must always be open to residential input. If we had more of that we would not be dealing with the rugby lease termination or have spent thousands of dollars of city money rewriting zoning requirements because the initial changes were not what our residents wanted.”

Studer: “Maintenance of the Comprehensive Plan and Master Plan with zoning restrictions enforced. I think it is important to maintain the residential quality of our city with the ongoing update of the zoning map.”

The city’s zoning code is currently being rewritten. How would you change it?

Daues: “I would want to make sure the code reflects residents’ concerns about multifamily dwellings in all residential areas and restricts multifamily to appropriate locations within the city. I would also not want any lot size restrictions to be reduced. The protest option for residents should also be retained.”

Studer: “I would want to maintain the existing R-1 zoning that would limit the density as was originally intended in our zoning laws. As I previously stated, there could be exceptions that properties that border commercial sites or major arterial streets that would justify ‘cluster homes’ or attached villas.”

Should the city reject projects such as water towers or cell towers, even if it risks a lawsuit?

Daues: “The recent controversy concerning the replacement of a water tower with a new one three times larger should have been handled better. After listening to the board meetings it was clear that alternative sites were not even considered because of cost by Missouri American Water. The water company has requested a 32-percent rate hike, and I would have liked to have at least explored alternate sites. Ultimately, I understand the legal limitations the city has to influence the water tower location are a factor to be considered.”

Studer: “The city should attempt to reject water towers and cell towers if it creates eyesores for residents, and it should  consider any residents’ opposition. However, the legal precedent for public utilities does not favor litigation.”

Is the city of Sunset Hills business-friendly? What do you propose to keep current business in the city and attract new economic development?

Daues: “I believe the city is business-friendly but we can always improve on that through better communication with residents as well as business owners.”

Studer: “Sunset Hills is business-friendly for the right types of businesses. The new zoning ordinance should be business-friendly and the city should maintain a low tax base.”

What do you think of the city leasing part of Bander Park for a rugby field? Should the city accept other donated properties?

Daues: “The lease was negotiated and signed with very little public input.  The proof of the lack of input was the controversy it generated once it was widely known. I was against the lease as it was not fair to the city under any circumstance. I was very active in the effort to overturn the lease by attending board meetings, writing numerous letters and organizing residents. A traffic study should have been initiated before the lease was signed. The city needs to look at donated properties on a case-by-case basis but with an understanding of the budget limitations that is our current situation.”

Studer: “The rugby field at Bander Park would exacerbate the traffic problems it would create. The West Watson/Highway 30 intersection is dangerous and, thus, would  force traffic through nearby residential areas of the city.  The city should continue to accept donated properties.”

What should the city do to help residents impacted by flooding? 

Daues: “The city should be proactive when it comes to flood control. Any flood plain development within the city limits should be carefully reviewed and especially measured as to its impact on residential areas.”

Studer: “I don’t think the Meramec flooding is the city’s problem. The Corps of Engineers should be consulted on any work considered within the flood plain. I would hope any residents impacted would have flood insurance.”

What would you do to increase the city’s responsiveness to projects or provide public notice of projects? 

Daues: “We need to use the existing Sunset Hills newsletter to better position the residents on upcoming issues. It is also the alderman’s responsibility to communicate within his ward.  Electronic media can be used to greatly enhance our transparency.”

Studer: “The city provides public notices by posting at the property, by notifying by mail nearby property owners, by the monthly newsletter, and by the city website that is always accessible. The Community Center posts their information by email. Possibly public notices could be posted in the same manner.”

Should Sunset Hills fight any efforts by St. Louis County to regulate police departments and other city business?

Daues: “Any proposal should be thoroughly debated by the Board of Aldermen with residents’ input.”

Studer: “The city should remain autonomous from the county as much as possible.  The use of the county for plan review, building permits and building inspections should be the extent of county regulation in Sunset Hills.”