Developer Elvin Sapp’s request that the city Planning and Zoning Commission table consideration of his plan for the Philips tract until Sept. 18 foreshadows several weeks of discussions among Sapp, his engineers and city staff.
Those discussions almost certainly will lead to changes in the Philips plan, but Sapp spokesman Mark Farnen made it clear the developer doesn’t plan to trade one aspect of the proposal for another.
“We are sticking to our plan,” Farnen said, adding he believes the discussions will center around two primary issues — the specifics of proposed land uses and the need for a traffic study — that were raised by the city staff.
The report from the city Planning Department recommends rejection of Sapp’s June 16 proposal for annexing and zoning of the 489-acre Philips farm. That recommendation revolves around three major issues: the non-compliance of proposed land uses with city standards, the absence of a comprehensive traffic study and the need for sewer improvements in the area.
Sapp’s proposal divides the Philips property into nine tracts. The city report submitted Thursday questions the request for open commercial zoning on Tract 8, saying planned zoning is preferable because it would allow the city more control over the development. Mayor Darwin Hindman said in June that open zoning would be unreasonable because the Philips property is in a sensitive watershed.
“Without C-P zoning, the city cannot exclude incompatible uses, cannot condition approval to the completion of certain public improvements, cannot require approval of site development plans prior to construction ... and cannot limit the number and size of signs,” the staff report says. Also, the report notes, open zoning goes against a council
resolution that urged the use of planned zoning in the Little Bonne Femme drainage basin.
The staff has also objected to Sapp’s request for planned commercial zoning on Tracts five and seven because it wouldn’t conform with the Metro 2020 Plan. Instead, the city has suggested planned office development. Planners also want a more specific breakdown of Sapp’s plans for offices and apartments in Tracts four and six.
Proposed building heights and setbacks in the plan also received close scrutiny from the staff, which has recommended shorter buildings and larger setbacks. In Tract two, for example, where Sapp seeks PUD-3 zoning, the staff recommends setbacks of 10 feet rather than the 6-foot setbacks sought by the developer. In Tract three, the staff recomends reducing the maximum building height from 90 feet to 55 and requiring a 10-foot minimum setback. No minimum setback was proposed in the original plan.
Farnen said the plan calls for taller buildings to reduce runoff from the development. “To adhere to the rule of 30 percent impervious surface limit, we had to build up and not build out,” he said.
The biggest bone of contention, however, is Sapp’s refusal to pay up front for a traffic study. Farnen called it “a question of process,” arguing potential traffic patterns will change dramatically with different zoning designations and if the city decides to buy Tracts three and nine for a park.
“To do a traffic study twice is very expensive,” Farnen said.
The Missouri Department of Transportation, according to the city report, opposes a new interchange at Gans Road and U.S. 63, saying it’s too close to the Route AC interchange.
The report also questions how the developer will share the cost of improving Gans Road and other arterial streets in the area. Sapp’s proposal indicates he would pay half the cost of the new interchange, plus those costs normally paid by developers for construction of arterial roads. The staff, however, wonders how he came up with those numbers.
“How was it determined that the proposed development will generate one-half of the traffic using the new interchange since no traffic study has been completed?” the report asks. “Who will pay for the other portion of the interchange cost?”
Ben Londeree of the Boone County Smart Growth Coalition said those questions are valid.
“It is a philosphical question of whether the general public as a whole or the people who are going to benefit from the development should pay,” he said. “As the city grows, the need for infrastructure — sewer, lights, roads, etc. — will also grow, and how do we keep up with it, and who pays for all these?”
Sewers are another concern. While $3 million in sewer improvements planned by the city would help accommodate development of the Philips farm and surrounding areas, financing depends on voter approval of a bond issue on the November ballot, the staff noted in its report. Londeree, however, believes the cost of sewer projects should be prorated and passed on to “all the people who caused the development in the area.”
Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Jerry Wade said that while the Philips proposal will be tabled Thursday, anyone who wishes to speak on the matter will be allowed to do so.