This is a summary of the meeting.
All commissioners were present. It was a packed house but I figured that was because the agenda stated there would be Planning and Zoning agenda items.
The Macks Creek Water Grant agenda item was handled first. Commissioner Hasty needed to sign a new agreement because the costs have gone up. The extra money is going to be spent on engineers and materials.
This item was approved unanimously.
The second agenda item was for the Leggett-Pier 31 matter. This has been described in detail in a previous meeting summary. Basically, a guy from Kansas City wants to build a Christian youth camp/RV park and part of the project will include a swim-up pool bar for Larry’s on the Lake. This would require a rezoning from R-1 to B-2.
Mr. Leggett, the current property owner, was present but the gentleman from Kansas City has COVID so he wasn’t able to come. At the meeting two months ago, the Commission told them to have a site plan to show everyone what they intended to build there. They were also supposed to coordinate with the local homeowner associations regarding the project. Apparently, none of that was accomplished.
Mr. Leggett said they were not able to get an engineer since everyone is currently so busy with construction. He asked the Commission to table the matter for 60 more days so they could get this done.
The neighbors who were present were not happy about the idea of tabling it. Some of them also said they heard the swim up pool was supposed to be connected to the lake. Commissioner Hasty told them it would have to be approved by Ameren and he felt it was very unlikely Ameren would approve such a pool. They also said the people involved with the project, including Mr. Leggett, had not even tried to call or contact them.
Commissioner Gohagan made a motion to deny the re-zone. Commissioner Williams seconded the motion and the rezone was denied.
The second agenda item was for K2 Properties. They have a 5.7 acre parcel in Linn Creek that is on a hill that fronts US Highway 54. Dan Damitz is the owner of the property. He wanted the property to be re-zoned from R-1 to B-2 so he can level the top of the hill and use the existing building for a storage facility. The building will be for inside storage and the leveled outside area would be for exterior storage for vehicles. No blasting is required and he will only level the top.
There were quite a few people present from Linn Creek in opposition of this rezone. They gave a variety of different reasons about why they thought the rezone was a bad idea and it’s pretty apparent that people from Linn Creek really like living there. I even learned quite a bit about the history of the town.
I’ll summarize their concerns. Many were concerned about what impact the commercial development would have on the residential properties that border the hill. The road up into the property comes directly off the highway and vehicles driving 55 MPH would not have time to brake once they came over the crest and saw people slowing to make the turn into the property. The hill also provides a barrier that stops the highway noise from reaching Linn Creek. If the hill was leveled or reduced, it would increase the amount of noise pollution residents would receive from the highway traffic.
One woman mentioned that she owns a house that borders Damitz’ current business, D&R Materials. The portion of their property behind her property used to be a pasture and she was assured that it wouldn’t be developed or blighted by the business. Unfortunately, over the years, the business has expanded into that pasture and ruined the view from the back of her house and created a lot of industrial noise. They built two large storage buildings where the pasture used to be. Kim Willey from P&Z later mentioned that they are supposed to keep a minimum buffer of 25 feet of natural growth around commercial property so it would be interesting to see if that homeowner has some recourse to force the business to push its activities back away from her property line.
Residents were also concerned that while Mr. Damitz might say he was only intending to make minimal changes to the property, a rezoning would allow the next owner to do whatever they wanted with the property. B-2 zoning allows a tremendous variety of commercial ventures to operate there.
Mr. Damitz came forward and spoke again. He admitted that he knew the property was zoned R-1 before he closed on it. I believe he said he paid $250,000 for the property.
Commissioner Hasty mentioned that they could have Mr. Damitz voluntarily place a deed restriction on the property that would restrict what could be done with it within the B-2 zoning. A deed restriction can only be changed with a court order. Hasty also mentioned at least five times that they might be better off with the project that Damitz was proposing because the property is highway frontage and on a later date with a different commission, a different purchaser might get approval for a commercial venture that they would dislike even more.
The idea of a deed restriction is interesting. I’ve seen it done before at Commission meetings, but it actually isn’t always a great idea for the property owner. An owner really has to understand the implications of placing a restriction on the land. If Damitz agreed to restrict the use of the property to only a storage facility, I would think that would drastically reduce the value of the property for commercial buyers. It would mean that the only buyers who would ever want it would be people who intended to own a storage facility.
Virtual Nathan called in and spoke about his feelings on the matter. He understood their concerns but also talked about how the property was a highway frontage property and might have a tendency to be commercially developed. I’m not sure how many people knew who this disembodied voice belonged to but I still find it highly entertaining to hear Nathan talking from the Commission desk. It was like he was a fourth virtual Commissioner.
Kim Willey also mentioned that development on a B-2 property can only make 65% of the property impervious and that restricts what can be built there.
Commissioner Williams recused himself because he owns property in Linn Creek. This created an interesting situation because it meant that only two of the three Commissioners could vote on the matter. Commissioner Hasty was obviously pushing to table the matter so Damitz could get a deed restriction and appeared to be leaning toward tabling it.
Then Commissioner Gohagan threw a curveball. He moved to deny the rezone. There was a pause and I watched Commissioner Hasty. If he didn’t approve the motion, there would be a stalemate. Commissioner Hasty then stated that he was concerned about potential for traffic accidents on US Highway 54 if there was a commercial property there. He said he could not vote for someone’s death. He seconded Gohagan’s motion and the denial passed 2-0.
This would seem to finish this rezone proposal for good. Commissioner Williams can’t really unrecuse himself and Commissioner Hasty would be hard pressed to reverse himself on the idea of voting for traffic deaths. Interestingly, Mr. Damitz didn’t seem too upset about the result. Usually, at this point, the owner would storm out, grumbling to himself. Instead, he just sat there calmly and took it in stride.
After these two items were finished, the room really cleared out as most of the residents for the two agenda items had left.
The third agenda item was for T&N Development-Port Niangua Rezone R-1 to R-3. Jim Nugent presented for approval and no one opposed it. The P&Z Board voted 5-1 in favor of the rezone. They plan to build a high end condominium development and Nugent brought a plan of the development that he showed to the Commissioners. This rezone was unanimously approved.
The final agenda item was South Metro Land Co, LLC State Route KK – Rezone R-1 to B-2. Kim Hunt purchased the property last April and he is new to the area. They want to build an RV Camp near Ozark Distillery. The P&Z Board voted 4-2 in favor of the rezone.
A few neighbors came to express their concerns about the rezone but Hunt seemed amenable to working with his neighbors to alleviate any concerns. The biggest concerns were the location on KK and the various factors that can make KK a bit dangerous to drive on at times. It’s a windy road and very dark. There are lots of deer and many of the drivers are tourists who are new to the area and not familiar with the conditions. The extra traffic from the RV park might make it worse. The RV Camp will have someone who lives on the premises so that should help with issues about security and late night partying.
This rezone was approved unanimously.
And that was that.