John Tarnell 04-11

John Tarnell at a County Council rezoning meeting held April 11.

It’s taken more than seven months, but Jefferson County officials approved a rezoning request that would allow a subdivision to be built on Byrnesville Road about a half-mile west of Hwy. W in House Springs just west of Byrnes Mill.

The Jefferson County Council voted 4-3 Oct. 28 to approve the request from Paul Busch of St. Louis to rezone 48.67 acres from large-lot residential to single-family residential.

Busch applied for the rezoning on March 11, but Gene Fribis of Heneghan and Associates of Arnold, who represented Busch at hearings before the county’s Planning Commission and then the County Council, said the process has been going on much longer.

“I’ve been trying to remember,” Fribis said after the meeting. “I’d say I was brought in nine months ago, quite possibly a year.”

The planning board voted unanimously April 11 to recommend denial of the request.

The County Council, which has the sole authority to rezone land in unincorporated areas, ended up ordering a public hearing, held July 22, on the request after area residents complained about the potential development.

Since then, the issue has bounced on and off of the council’s agenda, with neither an ordinance to approve nor a resolution of denial gaining enough votes to resolve the issue – at least not until the Oct. 28 vote.

Busch has an option to buy the property from Red Bird LLC of Chesterfield, contingent upon securing the rezoning, which would allow homes on lots of

1 acre or larger.

Fribis had said a development likely would take in 41 or 42 acres that would sell for an average of $75,000, and homes would be built there worth $400,000 to $600,000. He said public water and sewer lines would be extended to the area, with neighbors likely being able to connect to them as well.

The neighbors, however, spoke consistently against the rezoning request, showing up at every County Council meeting to remind council members they oppose Busch’s plans.

Most of the objections centered around the generation of additional traffic on Byrnesville Road and tie-ups at Hwy. W, as well as concern that the rezoning would open up the area, which is primarily large-lot residential with some commercial and agricultural uses, for more rapid small-scale development.

Some residents also said they were worried about the potential for increased stormwater flooding and runoff and questioned whether the Northwest R-1 School District could absorb the additional students.

Residents also had concerns that a development would bring in people who would trespass on neighboring properties.

Council members Renee Reuter (District 2, Imperial), Charles Groeteke (District 4, Barnhart) and Jim Terry (District 7, Cedar Hill) voted against the rezoning request.

“I based my decision on evidence presented to the council during the public hearing (on July 22),” Reuter said.

Terry said the residents’ concerns about traffic resonated with him.

“I’m still concerned about the traffic issues,” he said. “Byrnesville Road is an area of low-density housing and farms and I’d like to keep it that way.”

Groeteke said he sided with those who continually showed up to oppose the request.

“I agree with the citizens who live there,” he said. “I believe this is spot zoning.”