Affton residents pack into meeting over what to do with Tower Tee property

AFFTON, MO -  A town hall meeting was held Wednesday (March 20) to discuss the future of prime property in south St. Louis County.  County Council Member Lisa Clancy hosted the discussion at the Affton Community Center to hear from her constituents about what they think should happen to the land formerly occupied by Tower Tee.

"It is really important that the community that's most impacted has a say in the development," said Clancy.

For more than 50 years, Tower Tee was a fixture on the 28-acre site along Heege Road in Affton.  The business featured a driving range, batting cages, mini golf, and a 3-par course.

The land could someday be lined with new homes.  In February, home builders McBride Homes and J.H. Berra Construction Co. closed on the property.

Real estate investor Joey DiFranco grew up in Affton and says new homes are needed to retain residents.

"As times have changed, the community hasn't," said DiFranco.  "There are no 'step-up' houses, so Affton has become a 'step-up' community.  People come in, when their family starts to grow, they move out of it."

A plan submitted by McBride in 2017 proposed building 99 single-family homes and 59-row houses on the property.  That plan was pulled last year, and no new plans have been submitted.

However, the potential of new homes has residents concerned about an increase in traffic.

"Heege Road is really pretty difficult during rush hour times, especially morning rush hour," said Joseph Hoffman who lives on Heege Rd.  "It really backs up at the intersection with (S. Laclede Station Rd.), and adding more homes there just makes that situation worse."

Hoffman and other residents against the proposed neighborhood development say they are also concerned about drainage problems that will come with new construction and the overcrowding of area schools.

Residents said they also do not want to lose green space. Clancy agreed, adding county parks and green spaces are lacking in the Affton community.

Teri Pelech is bringing petitions to her neighbors in hopes of collecting enough signatures to stop the rezoning.

McBride said it is willing to consider selling up to 11 acres of property to create a park, but it would not include golf or baseball.

DiFranco argues the land will make more money if new homes are built on it, and the county will, therefore, make more money on the property than it did when Tower Tee occupied the space.  He believes that is a better use of the space and investment back into the community.

Clancy said there is still a way to go before breaking ground on any projects.

"A new plan needs to be submitted to St. Louis County Planning and Zoning," she said. "There's quite a few steps involved in that. Then, ultimately, after it goes to the planning commission it still goes to County Council."

The site is zoned for commercial development and will need approval from the St. Louis County Council to be re-zoned for residential development.  Residents have been appearing at county council meetings for months to express their opinions about the plans for the site.

According to Clancy, Tegna Inc., the former owner of the property where Tower Tee was located, still owns the broadcast tower and the property immediately surrounding the tower. Clancy said the company has no plans to sell, so any plan will have to work around the tower.

A spokesperson for McBride homes said the company will submit plans to the county after hearing feedback from residents during Wednesday's meeting.

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