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750 North Taylor Development Wins Council OK

The Kirkwood City Council approved a three-home subdivision at 750 North Taylor Ave., Thursday evening.

The Kirkwood City Council approved a subdivision at 750 North Taylor Ave., despite objections from local residents and a recommendation from the city's Planning and Zoning Commission to deny plans for the development.

Development of the subdivision, discussed in detail by John Pitcher at Thursday's meeting of the city council, would demolish the 1884 W.F. Warner home that stands on the property and replace it with three homes accessible by a private cul-de-sac.

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Pitcher's plan calls for several waivers that deviate from the standard city ordinances for subdivisions. Waivers, exceptions to city ordinances that require special circumstances or unnecessary hardship to be granted, are common in development, but some residents took issue with Pitcher's waivers.

Ellen Smith, a North Taylor resident, attended many of the meetings of the Planning and Zoning Commission that discussed the development of 750 N. Taylor.

"They told us that most of his waivers weren't necessary, but that they were self-induced because of things (Pitcher) wants to do with the property," Smith said. "He's asking for more waivers on this property than any subdivision development in Kirkwood in the last 10 years." 

Planning and Zoning recommended denying Pitcher's request at its Nov. 2 meeting. But Planning and Zoning does not have approval or denial power. The commission can only recommend action to the council. The decision to approve or deny developments is up to the Kirkwood City Council.

Pitcher attended the council meeting with two separate plans to develop the property. The first plan he presented was the same denied by Planning and Zoning; the second was an unrendered, uncompleted plan, which the developer referred to as "Plan B."

"To be honest, I don't like (Plan B) as much," Pitcher said. "Now, Plan B doesn't require any waivers or exceptions like my first plan does. But it's not as aesthetically pleasing, it isn't as marketable and it isn't as nice looking as the original."

Pitcher said he drew up the second plan as a backup and that he would propose the second plan if council denied his first plan.

Pitcher spoke to the council for more than 45 minutes arguing for his original development plan. Pitcher said that development on the plot was inevitable and that he was trying to maximize the space by fitting three homes on the lot.

"People who know this stuff better than me that are on P&Z have told me that this is not a lot for three houses, but that two would be fine," Smith said. "No one is trying to tell this guy he can only build one house. We just want him to build two instead of three."

The council voted 5-2 to approve Pitcher's original development plan. Council members Biedenstein and Jaksetic voted against the measure.

"As a resident, it's disappointing that they've appointed this commission (Planning and Zoning) and put people on it that are qualified to make these recommendations, and then they totally ignore the recommendations based on one presentation from (Pitcher). They didn't get the other side of the story at all, and that bothers me," Smith said.

Jeff Hartman January 10, 2012 at 02:40 PM
Must be incredibly frustrating and demotivating to work on Planning and Zoning and have the City Council continually ignore its recommendations.
Linda Austin January 10, 2012 at 05:03 PM
So why wasn't there a two-house plan required? All or shoddy Plan B? Shame on City Council.

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