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Debate over former nursery property use continues

The intersection of Old Ballwin and Manchester roads [Google Earth photo]

The on-again, off-again plans for the former Ballwin Nursery property on Old Ballwin Road may take a step toward a final decision when the Ballwin Planning and Zoning Commission meets July 2.

That was the update given at the June 25 meeting of the city’s board of aldermen about the site, now owned by the adjoining ELCO Chevrolet Cadillac dealership.

In repose to a question from Alderman Jim Leahy [Ward 3] about the status of the property, the board heard about the upcoming meeting and that a revised plan for the parcel received a chilly reception at the commission’s May meeting.

A year ago, the dealership received a special use exception [SUE] from the city for a service center on the three-acre nursery property. At the earlier commission session, ELCO representatives said the company now has decided to break up the project into two phases beginning with site improvements and adding the service center later.

No timetable was given for the two-part development and the property has been and is being used as a dealership vehicle parking lot.

Mayor Tim Pogue said he didn’t like the idea of a parking lot across the street from single family residences, a viewpoint later supported by a nearby resident who called the former nursery property’s current use an “eyesore.”

Pogue added that vehicles parked on the former nursery property and on the lot at the southwest corner of the Manchester Road-Old Ballwin Road intersection are there illegally. The dealership needs to develop a plan to remove them, he said.

With no timeline for building the service center, that facility might not become a reality for years and may never be built at all, Pogue added. A parking lot is allowed in the area only with an SUE and when it is an accessory use for the property’s primary purpose, in this case the proposed service center building, city officials explained.

At the commission meeting, City Administrator Eric Hanson said another issue is credibility. The dealership has had the Manchester Road-Old Ballwin Road property since last fall, has remained non-compliant due to the lot’s being maintained as a parking area and has given inconsistent information about its intended use.

Rather than voting on the new SUE request at the May meeting, the commission opted to delay a final decision until a future meeting when the dealership will submit a revised plan.

According to documents for the July 2 commission meeting, the dealership will be requesting an SUE on the former nursery parcel for a 10,100-square-foot service center, or about half the size of what was proposed a year ago, as well as an expanded parking lot.

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