When Shawn Wren sought a special use permit to build two apartment buildings on his property at Broadridge and Independence (Highway D), he had no idea he was opening up a can of worms.
Residents from Broadridge Subdivision opposed his plan at Planning and Zoning Commission meetings, claiming that apartments in that location would add too much traffic to an already busy Independence Street (especially on school days when parents drop off and pick up students) and could bring undesirable tenants to the area.
The property is zoned O-1 (professional office), and that zoning allows for apartment buildings. Wren withdrew his request for a special use permit and changed his plans to one apartment building with 10 one-bedroom and 16 two-bedroom units. He had wanted two buildings because it would be more aesthetically pleasing, but he was willing to go forward with one building, because that complied with the zoning ordinance.
The Broadridge Subdivision homeowners then sought to change the zoning ordinance to remove condominiums, multifamily dwellings (apartments) and rooming and boarding houses from O-1 zoning.
At a public hearing before the Mayor and Board of Aldermen May 21, several homeowners and their attorney spoke, most claiming that the residential uses were added to the O-1 zoning illegally, because they had not received individual letters from the city when that happened in 2009.
“Our argument is that in 2009, Jackson illegally amended the ordinance in use,” said Ken Detring. “Written notices must be sent to all residents within 185 feet of the property. No letters were sent. Nobody showed up (at a public hearing) because nobody knew about it.”
City Attorney Tom Ludwig explained that when a zoning request is made for a property, the City does send out letters to residents within 185 feet of that property. But when a code change is made, it affects the entire city, not an individual property, and letters do not need to be sent.
Other residents spoke about safety issues. “We want our community to continue to be nice,” said Angela Compton. She didn’t want duplexes up and down the street. “We’re trying to keep the community safe; the traffic safe.”
Wren, the developer, opposed the change in the ordinance, which was recommended by the Planning and Zoning Commission on a 5-4 vote. He said his property is currently zoned for multifamily housing. “I’m just asking to do that.” He said his proposed apartment would have 26 units, and it’s unlikely the renters would all leave at 7 a.m. and return at 3:30. He believed their impact on traffic would be negligible.
Wren added that this whole issue has come before the Board of Aldermen because of his one property and the neighbors who opposed it. He said it was an “injustice to all the residents of the city” to remove some residential uses from O-1 zoning just because a few citizens wanted to stop his apartment building from being built.
Wren said his apartment building will be worth about $2 million, which is more than any home in the area. It should not cause nearby property values to depreciate, he added.
As to concerns about who would rent, Wren said, “It’s people who live in our community already.” He expects renters to be people who come out of college and come back home to Jackson who can’t afford a down payment on a home right away.
“It’s a classy building. What we’re offering to bring to Jackson is not degrading.”
He said he had no reason to harm Jackson. “I live here. I have my company here. I graduated from Jackson.”
Wren said he just wanted to utilize his property which he bought for this purpose.
His attorney, Megan Andrews, said it is a due process violation to have contractors sign contracts with Wren and then all of a sudden the zoning is changed so the building can’t be built. “Permits have been given out. Money has been spent,” she said.
The Board of Aldermen did not vote on the proposed change to the zoning ordinance. The item was tabled and discussed in study session.
There, City Administrator Jim Roach reminded the Board that a “No” vote on the issue would keep things as they are; a “Yes” vote will make the change.
When asked how many areas are zoned O-1, Janet Sanders, Building and Planning Superintendent, said there are four areas; 701 East Main St., Kimbel Lane (where Jackson Tire is), Gerald Street (across from Ford Groves) and Wren’s property.
Ludwig reiterated that the City followed state statutes when it made its code text amendments in 2009. And when the City considers rezoning a property, notices are mailed to surrounding residents and property owners.
“We can’t kick this can down the road anymore,” said Alderman Larry Cun-ningham. “I’m ready to vote next meeting.”
Alderman Katy Liley said she had a hard time telling property owners retroactively that they can’t use their property for the purpose that they bought it.
The matter will be up for a vote at the June 4 meeting of the Board of Aldermen.
In other action:
• Water mains: The City contracted with Jokerst Inc., of Ste. Genevieve to continue to replace water mains under the streets for $410,062.
• Wastewater study: The Board accepted the Wastewater Utility Study as prepared by Horner & Shifrin Inc.
• Wastewater plant: The City will pay Kim Hoskins Environmental Consulting, LLC, of St. Louis $5,200 to consult on wastewater pretreatment modifications.
• Smoke stacks: Hastings Engineering of St. Louis will be paid $15,500 to test emissions from the power plant smoke stacks.
• Police station: Several items were considered regarding the new police station to be built next to the police and fire complex.
The Board authorized city staff to issue a Request for Qualifications for a design/builder. (That request can be seen in the public notice section of this issue of The Cash-Book Journal)
The Board also authorized an amendment to Chapter 39 of the Code of Ordinances, removing the gravel parking lot next to the police and fire complex from the list of commuter parking lots. That parking lot is the site of the new building.
Because semitrailer trucks used that lot in the past and no longer will, the Board passed a bill removing South Missouri Street as a truck route.
The Board set a public hearing for 6 p.m. Monday, June 18, to consider a request to rezone 503 and 525 South Hope Street and City Cemetery from R-2 (single family) district to C-2 (central business) district. The change is required for the building of the police station. The cemetery is being rezoned to “make for contiguous zoning,” said Sanders.
• New Justice Center: The Board set a public hearing for 6 p.m. Monday, June 18, to consider a request from Cape Girardeau County to rezone 311 N. High and 308 N. Missouri from R-2 (single family residential) and C-2 ( general commercial) to C-3 (central business) district. This will be the site of the new Justice Center (courthouse).
• East Main & Shawnee intersection: The Board accepted an evaluation study of the East Main Street and Shawnee Boulevard intersection prepared by Smith and Company Engineers of Poplar Bluff.
• Maevers plat: The Board approved a minor plat of the M.I. Third Subdivision as submitted by Jim Maevers and approved a contractual agreement regarding the dedication of South Donna Drive right of way.
• Median break: The Board approved construction plans for a break in the concrete median on East Main Street west of I-55 for proposed commercial entrances, as submitted by Abbotsford Land Management, L.P.
The Board also approved a $13,400 task order to Coch-ran Engineering of Union to provide engineering services for the project.
• Buildings in disrepair: Tom Gleason complained to the Board of Aldermen that certain properties were in disrepair. He was instructed to provide a list of addresses and they would be passed along to the nuisance officer.
• Parking on North High St.: The Board discussed the repeal of on-street parking on North High Street between Washington and Mary streets.
The City would like to eliminate this parking because it is the last parking allowed on an arterial street and it is not used very often. It was stated that these homes now all have driveways.
Traffic studies have recommended that parking be not allowed on arterial streets.
The Jackson Police Department and Jackson R-2 School District (which has a bus stop in this area) both approve of eliminating on-street parking.
Eliminating parking on the street would improve sight distance, making driving on North High Street safer. When the new courthouse is built, it is expected that vehicle and foot traffic will increase in this area.
Two property owners spoke in opposition.
Jerry King said his rental property would have only two parking spots if street parking is removed. Taking away parking could devaluate his rental property, making it harder to rent or sell.
A neighbor of his had just spent thousands of dollars improving his front yard to give him better access to street parking, King said.
If parking is removed, the traffic will speed up through that area, making it more unsafe, he maintained. Traffic speeds have already increased after the stop sign was removed at Washington Street.
Paul Kirn said his rental property shared a driveway with the neighbor. Right now, the neighbors get along fine and parking in the shared driveway is not an issue. But it could turn into one.
City Administrator Jim Roach recommended that the aldermen look at the properties for themselves and consider what the property owners said as they weigh their decisions.
• Water main change order: The Board discussed in study session a change order to the water system facility plan. There was an increase in cost of $96,843.21 because the work on four streets cost more than estimated. The contractor will not be paid until he completes the work on East Adams Street.
• New pool hours: The Jackson public pool will now be open 1-6 p.m. instead of 1-7 p.m. This will save the City money (there were few swimmers the last hour) and will make more after-hours available for pool parties.
• Closing Cascade Street: In study session, the Board discussed closing the Cascade Street City Park entrance, which is near the pedestrian bridge over Hubble Creek. It is felt that it’s unsafe to have this roadway connecting to the busy Highway 61 North so close to pedestrians and bikers.
Park Board President Bob Lichtenegger suggested that the street be made one way going west, and that traffic be diverted to the left side of the street. Barriers could be erected to keep pedestrian traffic safer and not cut off all access to the park at that point.
“I’d say the one-way [option] is worth a try,” suggested Roach.
• I-55 interchange: Mayor Hahs informed the Board that discussions are ongoing with MoDOT in an attempt to place an Outer Road access to East Jackson Boulevard somewhere between Old Orchard Road and I-55. Currently, an Outer Road does connect, but that intersection will not exist after the diverging diamond interchange is completed.