South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

Two proposed developments opposed by nearby residents

Petition opposing Estates at Briarcliff presented to planning panel members

A local developer faced dozens of angry neighbors last week at zoning hearings for two subdivisions it proposes in south county.

If plans presented Aug. 19 to the county Planning Commission are approved by the County Council, Oakville-based J.H. Berra will build the 48-home “Manors at Grant’s View” on 10.2 acres in Affton, next to its already-planned luxury Grant’s View subdivision at the corner of Gravois and Musick roads.

It also proposes the 35-home “Estates at Briarcliff” on 21.23 acres on Schuessler Road off Tesson Ferry Road.

The “McMansions” of Berra’s proposed Estates are too large for small lots and are crammed together to maximize profits, while irrevocably changing the character and density of a treasured neighborhood, 15 residents living near Schuessler Road told the panel. They presented a petition with 186 signatures opposing the development.

“You’re not talking about making a farmer’s field that grows soybeans and wheat,” Schuessler Road neighbor Kenneth Witbrodt said. “You’re talking about 35 homes on a hillside that drops 72 feet … It’s a beautiful place to live, but it’s not made for a subdivision.”

Clayton real estate attorney John King represented the developer and McBride Berra, a joint company it formed with builder McBride & Son to buy and develop the Grant’s View property.

The same night, the Green Park Board of Aldermen conducted a public hearing on Berra’s proposed “Arbors at Clydesdale Park” subdivision off Kohrs Lane, and St. Louis County Library officials asked the county to rezone part of McBride Berra’s Grant’s View land for the new Tesson Ferry Branch Library.

For the Estates at Briarcliff, Berra is seeking a zoning change to an R-1A 22,000-square-foot Residence District from an R-1 1-acre Residence District for a 15.23-acre site on the south side of Schuessler Road, roughly 1,600 feet west of Tesson Ferry Road.

Berra also is requesting a Planned Environment Unit in the R-1 1-acre Residence District and R-1A 22,000-square-foot Residence District on 21.23 acres — which include the 15.23 acres — on the south side of Schuessler Road, roughly 1,600 feet west of Tesson Ferry Road.

The 100 or more families that live along Schuessler Road have until now been required to live on at least an acre, said Witbrodt, who noted that his property was “almost usurped” by Berra in its development plans.

During both of King’s presentations to the planning panel, he had to correct errors in Berra’s proposals, which led Schuessler Road neighbor Ron Zytniak to call both subdivision plans “half-baked to begin with.”

The plans for the Schuessler Road site submitted to the Planning Commission presented at least a half-acre of Witbrodt’s property as land Berra would develop, an error pointed out to Berra before the hearing by Witbrodt’s grandson. King said revised plans would be submitted the day after the hearing that would cut out a home site due to the error.

In the Manors at Grant’s View presentation, King said that the library would not have a separate entrance from Grant’s View, but later corrected the plans presented to say that the library will have its own entrance and curb cut.

Homes in the Estates at Briarcliff will sell from a range of $600,000 to $900,000, King noted, with some on lots as small as a quarter-acre. When some Schuessler Road neighbors complained that the development might bring down their property values, King replied that the only thing that would run down their home values was “failure to keep their homes up and to keep their school district up.”

That earned him boos from the audience, with attendees noting that the area’s school district, Lindbergh Schools, is currently the top school district in the state academically.

Traffic was the chief objection raised by a succession of 10 residents speaking against the Manors at Grant’s View, with most saying no further development should occur at the bustling Gravois and Musick intersection without installing a left turn lane. Berra plans homes at the site that will sell for $200,000 to upwards of $300,000.

“It’s an accident waiting to happen,” resident Steve Sternberg said. “There’s a lot of blind hills on it … It’s just a nightmare, with folks trying to turn.”

Planning Commission member William Ballard asked about installing a left-turn lane from Gravois onto Musick.

The Missouri Department of Transportation does not require McBride Berra to install one, King said.

McBride Berra is seeking a change in zoning to an R-6A 4,500-square-foot Residence District and an FPR-6A Flood-Plan 4,500-square Residence District from an MXD Mixed-Use Development District and an FPMXD Flood-Plain Mixed-Use Development District on 10.2 acres adjacent to the potential library site.

McBride Berra also is requesting a Planned Environment Unit for the site on the south side of Gravois, roughly 250 feet east of Musick Road.

Bill Rose, a member of the board of the Affton Athletic Association located next to the proposed subdivision, said the lots are in a flood plain and a new development will cause more water to flow onto the association’s property and into Gravois Creek.

“(The Athletic Association is) not allowed to add or move one inch of concrete without removing one inch of dirt,” he said. “When I built four dugouts, I had to remove the same amount of dirt. Our ice rink can’t be expanded. I haven’t heard anything from McBride that they are being required to do the same.”

If approved, the library will split maintenance costs for a detention pond on the lots. The Estates at Briarcliff property will have two retention ponds to Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District specifications that will not worsen stormwater problems at the site, King added.

Some opponents of the Manors questioned why the developer wants R-6 zoning on the site.

“It is evident they have chosen to redistrict the property to R-6 to have the state make the (road) improvements, as opposed to paying for it themselves,” Schuessler Road resident Jason Kendall said.

By a show of hands, 24 attendees, including at least 15 employees of McBride or Berra, were in support of the Manors at Grant’s View and 61 were opposed.

For the Estates at Briarcliff, 25 audience members, including at least 15 McBride or Berra employees, raised their hands in favor and 35 raised their hands in opposition.

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