The Jefferson County Council has thrown cold water on a Fenton man’s plans to convert a long-abandoned car wash on High Ridge Boulevard into a self-storage lot.
Council members voted 4-2 Sept. 13 with one abstention to deny a rezoning request and development plan to allow a self-storage lot on the .61-acre site at 3106 High Ridge Blvd., where the former High Ridge Car Wash operated.
Then on Sept. 27, the County Council voted 4-2 to approve a resolution that denied the application.
The Jefferson County Planning and Zoning Commission had voted 5-1 Aug. 26 to recommend approval of the request.
However, the County Council has the ultimate authority to rezone property in unincorporated areas.
Rob Riggs of Fenton asked the county to rezone the site from non-planned community commercial to planned mixed use.
He said he intended to develop the property in two phases.
In the first, Riggs said, the building that formerly housed the car wash would have been converted into self-storage units.
A structure that formerly held the car wash’s vacuum cleaners would have been used to store recreational vehicles or other types of vehicles, with four vehicles covered and 10 vehicles parked along the back of the site.
If things went well, Riggs said plans for the second phase called for the replacement of the old RV storage area with a new building.
Riggs conceded the site is a small one, and he would have limited the length of RVs to be stored there to 32 feet. In addition, he said, they would enter and leave the property on Edgewood Drive, a privately maintained road that runs along the south side of the site.
Terry Wampler, who lives nearby on Williams Creek Road, said he had questions about the safety of RVs turning onto High Ridge Boulevard and about the aesthetics of the site.
“We’ve seen property along the Boulevard auctioned off and left to be eyesores,” he said. “I don’t want to see that happen here.”
Riggs said his operation would be a good addition to High Ridge Boulevard because he would clean it up and keep it maintained.
He said he would not keep equipment from his main business, the Riggs Diggs excavation firm, at the High Ridge site.
County Councilman Brian Haskins (District 1, High Ridge) said he didn’t believe a storage firm would be a good addition to the restaurants and retail stores along High Ridge Boulevard.
“If you see it, it doesn’t fit on the Boulevard,” he said. “It’s zoned for retail businesses. We’d be taking a corner lot – the start of the Boulevard – and put a storage facility there. We’ve put a lot of effort into revitalizing the Boulevard. It would be a poor fit.”
Haskins owns a self-storage facility in High Ridge.
“It’s my job to look at the effect it would have on other businesses in the area,” Haskins said. “In my time on the council, I have voted for every other plan involving a storage facility, including two in my district. It’s a fact that in that time I have voted for more storage facilities than anyone else on the council, helping my competitors.”
Councilman Dan Stallman (District 6, De Soto) questioned the economic viability of the plan.
“It’s a very small area for a storage facility,” he said.
Along with Haskins and Stallman, council members Tracey Perry (District 5, Festus) and Vicky James (District 7, Cedar Hill) voted against the rezoning. Renee Reuter (District 2, Imperial) and Phil Hendrickson (District 3, Arnold) voted for it. Charles Groeteke (District 4, Barnhart) abstained, saying he didn’t have enough information after not having a chance to read the court reporter’s transcript of the P and Z meeting.
Groeteke was absent from the Sept. 27 meeting. Planning commissioner Danny Tuggle cast the sole dissenting vote on Aug. 26, saying he was concerned about large RVs trying to negotiate their way onto High Ridge Boulevard.