Jul 29, 2014

City Officials: Engaged Citizens Win Out as Delmar Gardens Tosses Ladue Rd. Plan

Scores of residents were opposed to the company's plans to put assisted living, independent living and single family residential units on Ladue Road near Interstate 270.

City Officials: Engaged Citizens Win Out as Delmar Gardens Tosses Ladue Rd. Plan

One week before Creve Coeur City Council members were to hear a final reading of a Planning and Zoning Commission's negative endorsement, Delmar Gardens officials announced Monday they were pulling plans to build an assisted living/independent living/single family residential complex on Ladue Road near Interstate 270.

Howard Oppenheimer, a Delmar Gardens Vice-President sent a two sentence-long letter to Mayor Barry Glantz and Creve Coeur City Council members Monday to notify them of the decision.

"It's our property," Oppenheimer said in a brief phone conversation, not ready to tip his firm's plan for what happens next to the two dozen acres located near Parkway Northeast Middle School.

The company's project was praised by city planners and planning and zoning commissioners in some respects as it emerged through the development phase into an official proposal, but then panned because it was not in keeping with the goals set out by Creve Coeur's Comprehensive Plan. It received a negative recommendation by Creve Coeur's Planning and Zoning Commission in November.

Delmar Gardens officials argued that the project was not commercial in nature, and thus was in keeping with Comprehensive Plan guidelines that call for the area to remain residential. In light of that, Ward 4 Councilman Dr. Scott Saunders said he wasn't surprised by the decision to withdraw.

"The inconsistency between the Delmar Gardens proposal and the Creve Coeur Comprehensive Plan did not seem to me to be something that could be reconciled by further analysis, which is why I opposed their request to table the matter at our last meeting," he wrote Monday.

"I believe the “heart” of this particular issue was whether (or not) this was a residential or commercial development in an area clearly identified as residential - in our own comprehensive plan," Creve Coeur Mayor Barry Glantz said in a statement late Monday afternoon.

He added:

The City of Creve Coeur has an excellent system of “checks and balances” in place – to ensure that our development process produces the results that the community desires.

I commend the applicant for an excellent proposal.  I commend City staff for their thorough analysis, which enabled our Planning and Zoning Commission to issue a very thoughtful (albeit unfavorable) recommendation to the City Council. 

But most of all, I commend the residents of our City – not only adjacent to the subject property but throughout our community, who were well organized and engaged, and shared their insights throughout this process !

Citizens mounted a vigorous petition campaign and came out in strong numbers against the proposal. of City Council members to back the project for it to gain city approval.

"Regardless of Delmar Gardens decision, I am impressed with how organized, informed and engaged the residents of Creve Coeur were," Ward 3 Councilwoman Charlotte D'Alfonso said Monday afternoon in an email. 

In December, Council members denied a Delmar Gardens request to delay city proceedings for three months, setting the stage for what would have likely been a vote to kill the project January 14.

The new complex would have replaced the company's existing facility in Creve Coeur.

This story will be updated as more information and reaction comes in to Patch.

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