Unanimous ‘no’ vote saves picturesque neighborhood from rezoning proposal

KIRKWOOD, Mo. – A packed room Thursday night as residents of a picturesque St. Louis County neighborhood fought back against a rezoning request to add more homes.

Residents living near Sugar Creek Valley had been raising concerns about a proposal that according to a petition would rezone 1.98 acres at 1837 Bach Street from an R1 to an R1/R2 split-zone which would allow the property to be divided into multiple lots with the potential to build up to 5 homes.

But during the Tuesday night’s council meeting, members took a unanimous ‘no’ vote against the proposal.

“I believe that the R1 as it is now is reasonable and aside from the emotion and no input, there is no plan,” said Councilman Mark Zimmer. “We don’t know what would occur afterward.”

“The current zoning has been suitable and reasonable for 50 years,” said Councilwoman Ellen Edman. “Personal economic gain for the owner is not a reason, it’s not a sufficient reason to rezone.”

Homes in the heavily wooded neighborhood are each on two acres of land.

Neighbors were concerned that the request to build two homes on land that’s a little less than two acres would not only disrupt the environment but also hurt the wildlife and cause safety and flooding issues.

They feared the rezoning could open the door for developers to buy homes to create more and smaller lots.

“I wouldn’t call it getting our way,” said Jason Difani, who lives near the land that was in question. “I would call it keeping with the characteristics of the neighborhood and building according to Kirkwood’s current zones.”

Some residents said that heavy rains already flood parts of Sugar Creek and that more development could make flooding worse.

They were worried that the lot is on a significant slope impacting drainage, sewer, roads, and sidewalks.

“They’re going to cut all the trees down so the trees are going to hold the water right now when it rains,” said Bob Simon, who lives just up the hill from the creek. “Once those trees come down, there’s going to be a lot more water flowing down to all those poor people down there.”

FOX 2 also spoke with attorneys for the landowners, who said that they disagree with some of the resident concerns.

“I disagree about any effect on the flooding because we had an engineer who spoke and said it could be engineered without any greater runoff,” said Skip Dufour. “In fact, less runoff than it is in the natural state.”

Attorneys for the city confirmed that the topic would not be discussed again.