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Manchester considers annexations

The city of Manchester is looking at expanding its footprint.

The city currently encompasses 5.1 square miles with a total area of 3,264 acres. Following its last two significant annexations, in 1997 and 1999, the city is virtually built-out. Now, Manchester is considering the annexation of two additional areas that border its northeastern and southwestern boundaries, which is governed under the St. Louis County Boundary Commission.

The possible annexation provides the city with an opportunity to increase its population, expand development opportunities and broaden its commercial/retail, employment, institutional and recreational offerings. In turn, the annexation can help grow the city’s tax base and make the city a more desirable place in which to live.

Annexation is a multi-step process over a six-year cycle divided between a “map plan” phase and a “proposal” phase. The cycle for the map plan phase opened on July 1, 2018; the proposal phase runs between April 15, 2019, and July 1, 2022.

Stephen Ibendahl and Beth Noonan, of The i5 Group, a St. Louis-based firm specializing in urban and community planning, presented an annexation analysis before the Board of Aldermen on Aug. 3. The analysis evaluates the advantages and disadvantages of the two options, including population, streets and infrastructure, community services, land use and financial impact. The evaluation will assist the city in making a better-informed decision regarding future growth and annexation.

The northeast annexation area is roughly bounded by the city of Manchester on the southwest, Carman and Dougherty Ferry on the south, the city of Town & Country and unincorporated St. Louis County on the north and Barrett Station Road on the east. The area is approximately 1,453 acres or 2.27 square miles with a total population of 6,425 residents. With the most recent survey in 2018 showing a population of 18,189 residents, annexation would increase the city’s population by 36%. The area is largely residential (53%) with both single-family and multi-family residences, for a total of 2,855 residential units

Commercial properties include retail and office development, such as Menard’s on Manchester Road and the retail development in front of Menard’s. It is home to a number of institutional uses, including West County EMS & Fire Station No. 2 and Parkway’s Pierremont and Carman Trails elementary schools.

Parks and recreational uses include St. Louis County’s John Allen Love Park and the privately owned Cool Dell Swim Club, both located in residential areas south of Manchester Road.

The majority of the roads, about 19 miles, are local streets serving subdivisions and the office park development east of Weidman Road and north of Manchester Road. Approximately 16% of the total acreage is considered vacant or agricultural. Grand Glaize Creek runs through the northeastern area with the most significant area of the associated 100-year flood zone located along the creek south of Manchester Road and generally parallel to Barrett Station Road.

The analysis of the northeastern annexation area estimates its total cost at $2.334 million with estimated revenues of $4.346 million. It rates the infrastructure and land use (age of properties, higher residential values and good connectivity) in a positive manner. The flood hazard areas may warrant additional study.

The southwestern annexation area is located along a portion of the city’s southwestern boundary along Sulphur Spring Road (the western boundary) and bounded by the city of Ballwin on the north and west and Big Bend Road on the south (the southwest area). The area is significantly smaller at 369 acres or .58 square miles. With a population of 3,283 residents, the land is predominantly residential, accounting for 85% of the area. With three acres designated for commercial use, the southwestern area includes a dry cleaner and a convenience store

Institutional uses in the southwestern area include Parkway’s Sorrento Springs Elementary and St. Louis County’s Bright Park, 13 acres of undeveloped green space surrounded by residences. Big Bend and Sulphur Spring roads are the primary roadways that serve the 10-mile street maintenance area.

The analysis of the southwestern annexation area expects costs of $1.324 million to exceed revenues of $1.301 million. It noted that infrastructure and land use to be less positive, with older residences with lower residential value and smaller parcels. It did note that it is comparable to existing city structures and there are no flood zones.

City Administrator Larry Perney stressed that while the data will help city officials evaluate the quantitative and qualitative cost and benefit of the annexation, it is not a “Plan of Intent.”

“We will only move forward with the annexations if city officials, Manchester residents and St. Louis County residents in the proposed annexation areas are in favor and (if the annexations are) approved by the Boundary Commission and St. Louis County,” he said.

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