Kareem Johnson | Digital Journalist

Plan Commission Considers Two Proposals; Controversy Over Sunshine Law

By Kareem JohnsonEmail the author | March 24, 2011

The Plan Commission meeting on Wednesday night started with members considering two proposals regarding properties, and ended on a controversial tone.

The meeting started shortly after 7pm at City Hall, with voting members, Chairman Ben Halpert, Nova Felton, Paulette Carr, and Lisa Greening in attendance, along with city councilmember Stephen Kraft. The minutes from the previous three meetings were not approved, with a lack of quorum.

The first hearing was for a minor subdivision of land plat in the University Hills subdivision at 7286 Creveling Drive. Mike Manlin filed for a minor subdivision of the property to build an additional single-family dwelling at that address. Manlin purchased the property in early 2011. Manlin is renovating the current home located at that address.

Lisa Greening, one of the commission members questioned the status of a tree that is located on the northeast corner of the current property. Manlin stated that the tree would remain on the property, and that every possible effort would be made to maintain it.

Residents of the neighborhood stated their concerns, and two residents of the neighborhood registered their opposition to the plan. In the staff report for the proposal, a letter that was undersigned by trustees of the neighborhood association stated that the “existing yard of the 7286 would be materially reduced and would require the removal of the existing patio, fountain and gazebo.” The trustee’s letter also mentioned that the removal of those items would “detract from its long-term value.”

The commission voted to postpone a decision of the proposal until the April 27 meeting, pending a statement from residents of the University Hills subdivision.

The second hearing was a zoning map amendment to 8126 Olive Boulevard. The property was purchased by Zun Xing Li and his wife Li Hua Lu two years ago. The couple own the Lu Lu Restaurant at 8224 Olive. Their intent is to make the property mixed-use. Currently, the property is zoned commercial, and Zun Xing Li wants the property to be rezoned as planned-development mixed use. The staff report document stated that “the eastern part of the building will be renovated into a new restaurant and rental office. The western portion of the building will be utilized for residential use.”

Carr expressed concern about the proximity of the property to the stream that runs behind the building in a wooded area, which is part of the River Des Peres tributary system. The area is classified as being in a floodway. Carr stated that she would not be comfortable with residential property being located in a floodway, citing the ongoing Wilson Road buyout. Commission member Felton also expressed reservations about approving the proposal, noting that the property was in poor condition and that it took  Zun Xing Li 18 months to make repairs after a motorist crashed into the property.  Zun Xing Li responded that the trash and other litter around the property were because of its close proximity to a bus stop, which is located on the sidewalk in front of the property.

Carr reiterated her unease with the location of the property in relation to the floodway and wanted a survey done to establish whether the property was in a floodway. Greening made a motion to postpone approval on the proposal, and was seconded by Chairman Halpert, and the proposal would be heard at the next meeting.

The controversy started when the meeting continued into the other business session, and commission member Carr expressed irritation about the lack of response she has received from Joyce Pumm, the City Clerk.  Carr stated that she had submitted several requests for information under Missouri’s Sunshine Law, but had received no response.  Andrea Riganti, Director of Community Development stated that the Sunshine Law stipulates a three-day response, unless under extenuating circumstances.  Carr then stated that she would submit requests directly to City Manager Lehman Walker in the future.

Chairman Halpert adjourned the meeting at 8:45pm. The next meeting is scheduled for April 27.

Click here if you want to know more about Missouri’s Sunshine Law.


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