Jun 01

Is More Growth Too Much?

Posted on June 1, 2023 at 8:15 AM by Bryanna Hartmann

I expressed concern in my November blog article about explosive growth in St. Charles County, including the 300 percent increase of apartment units in the last two years. There has recently been a submittal to the St. Charles County Planning and Zoning Commission for a rezoning from Agricultural District to R1A (1-acre minimum lot size) to R1E Residential District (7,000 sq. ft. minimum lot size) for the purpose of developing an approximate 556-home subdivision near Frontier Middle School, down Highway DD all the way to Schwede Road. 

This request is being made by developer Jeff Kolb and builder Lombardo Homes. If this land is 15 percent or more contiguous with the city limits of O’Fallon, the City could annex the property and the development would likely move quickly to build small lot subdivisions within the city limits with even more homes than the plan presented to the County. The developer is claiming it is 15 percent contiguous, but that has not yet been verified.

The problem is our annexation laws. Some cities are aggressive in their desire to grow. They believe that being the biggest and most populated city is good for its existing residents! HOW WRONG THEY ARE!

The developer will be coming before the St. Charles County Planning and Zoning Commission to request a rezoning from the Agricultural District to a number of Residential Districts. St. Charles County has several residential district types such as, RR (Rural Residential) – 3-acre minimum lot size; R1A – 1-acre minimum lot size; R1B – 20,000 sq. ft. minimum lot size; R1C – 15,000 sq. ft. minimum lot size; R1D – 10,000 sq. ft. minimum lot size; and R1E – 7,000 sq. ft. minimum lot size. Most of this development will be zoned R1E.

I find many reasons why this type of large development is not a good fit for this area. First and foremost, the St. Charles County 2030 Master Plan shows Low Density Residential (1-4 homes per acre) and Rural Residential (3 acres per lot) on most of this development area. Most of the rezoning request is for 4-6 homes per acre in the proposed R1E Residential Districts. This development would back up to Busch Wildlife and sit very near to Broemmelsiek Park, both of which are wildlife preserves. Also, this type of development would add approximately 3,000 cars daily on Highway DD, and be a major burden on the public safety, road infrastructure, schools and water systems which would all impact the current surrounding residents.   

If the area is 15 percent or more contiguous with the city limits of O’Fallon, it puts us in a bad position. Present annexation laws force us to work and negotiate with the developer on lot sizes. Otherwise, O’Fallon will annex the property, march right in, and open up the area for even more growth and density. By the County approving and retaining oversight of this development, the chances of maintaining smaller lot subdivisions further in this area in the future are better.

Most people live in our county with its rural areas because they love the way it is, but local decision-makers are destroying it by pushing the notion that it is necessary to be the fastest growing county in Missouri. That is not a badge of honor, but a huge burden to the taxpayers by creating a city urban area that many have fled to get away from.

The St. Charles County Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on this plan is at 7 p.m., June 21, at the Family Arena to accommodate the potential for an influx of concerned residents to have public discussion on this subject. Please show up to express your opinion. Also watch for postings for information on public information meetings as well.

Thanks, Joe

Nov 02

Annexations and Development in Rural Areas

Posted on November 2, 2022 at 1:31 PM by County Council

In the last decade, St. Charles County has seen explosive growth with many residents leaving St. Louis County and other urban areas for a more quiet and safe way of life. Just in the last two years, St. Charles County has had an explosion of apartments, over a 300% increase. Currently there are approximately 33 apartment complexes that take advantage of the federal voucher system for HUD housing. Local leaders will say we need housing for younger people and lower income workers. These apartments are approved by municipal city council members and only one has been approved by St. Charles County Council. 

There is currently a large development under consideration on property across from the Frontier Middle School and the Canine Country Farm property along Highway DD all the way up to Schwede Road. This developer approached me asking for four to six homes per acre, which I do not support and urged three acres per lot to maintain the rural atmosphere. At this point, the developer has approached the homeowners in a three-acre subdivision off Sommers Road and the owners of the cricket fields on Highway DD, attempting to have the property annexed into the city of O’Fallon. This development would bring hundreds of homes and destroy the natural beauty and character of our county.

These aggressive annexations and explosion of apartments is not good for St. Charles County. It brings heavy traffic and creates additional crime. It’s a zero-sum game and becomes a tax subsidy for other citizens in the county to maintain the roads and sewers, increase the necessary police officers to maintain safety and the extra burden on the school districts.

There are thousands of acres that make up the Busch Wildlife area of which citizens from all over come to enjoy for fishing, walking trails and managed wildlife hunts to maintain the wildlife habitat. Because managed wildlife hunts are allowed in the Busch Wildlife area, how dangerous would this be for high density developments surrounding this area? There needs to be state legislation drafted on these aggressive annexations, so we do not destroy the rural areas in this county.   

It amazes me how many people move away from areas they do not like anymore due to crime and poor schools, among other things, but then bring the same ideology to their new environment that they just moved from.

May 05

A Jewel for the Region

Posted on May 5, 2022 at 1:45 PM by County Council

Southwest St. Charles County is a jewel for the entire region. It is home to the oldest wine district in the country and is one of the largest with 67 wineries from St. Charles to Hermann, perched on the Missouri River bluff. With the wineries, unique shops, bed and breakfasts, parks, boating, and camping, it is a popular destination. 

With this popularity comes more commercial and residential development. And while development of all kinds can be good, we need to keep a close watch to make certain the beauty of this rural area isn’t lost.

Large corporations have purchased many of the well-established local wineries with the hopes of drawing more people to enjoy the beauty of the countryside. But often, drawing more people to an area can jeopardize the very thing that makes it so attractive.

In rural, agricultural areas, the majority of new housing development is on 3-5 acres. With the influx of people wanting to move to more rural areas, developers often want to build subdivisions on ¼-acre lots. The County’s requirement for five-acre minimum lots is what makes this area so attractive and beautiful and helps preserve the countryside, rural roads, trees and hillsides. While further development of the wineries and tourist options provides positives for St. Charles County, we also want to be sure to counter the growing demand for higher density residential development and stay true to the future land use goals of larger lot development in this area as outlined within our Master Plan.

Even in fast-growing counties, the rural way of life must be preserved so tourists, and most importantly, the people who live there can still enjoy what brought them there in the first place. St. Charles County must remain small town strong!