Construction of a new retail center on Milburn School Road could begin as soon as spring, according to city officials, but some area residents are hesitant about the development.
The City Council recently approved a pharmacy with a drive-thru and a fast-casual restaurant for the land northeast of the intersection of Milburn School Road and Old Collinsville Road. Construction is already underway on the new subdivisions, which the council approved in October 2016. Milburn School Road recently reopened after reconstruction that included storm sewer, curb and gutter, and pavement improvements.
Plans include a 13,100-square foot retail store and a 4,800-square foot restaurant with outdoor seating. The developer did not specify which retailer or restaurant would be located in the center, City Administrator Walter Denton said.
The developer is David Glarner of St. Louis-based Raven Realty IV, LLC. He could not be immediately reached for comment.
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One O’Fallon resident, Tatjana Whitesides, questioned the need for the development, noting that there are already several pharmacies nearby.
“I hate to see new developments when there are plenty of existing businesses and empty, rundown lots in our commercial corridor. Why do we need this?” Whitesides said.
I hate to see new developments when there are plenty of existing businesses and empty, rundown lots in our commercial corridor. Why do we need this?
Tatjana Whitesides, O’Fallon resident
Ward 5 Alderwoman Courtney Marsh says she has heard complaints from her constituents about the planned development, but says she believes the new retail will eventually offer convenience for residents on the north side of O’Fallon. Nearby pharmacies include the Medicine Shoppe two miles from the planned retail and Walmart on U.S. 50. The nearest Walgreens is roughly four miles away in O’Fallon and the nearest CVS is three and a half miles away.
“I think it could bring a positive option for that side of town to have a quick and easy place to go grab milk, meds, whatever. Have it right there, easy and convenient,” Marsh said.
Angela Bruce Jennings, who owns a country homestead off Old Collinsville Road north of the planned development, says she has watched the farmland that surrounds her home give way to new subdivisions. Her home is in Caseyville, and Jennings said she prays O’Fallon never annexes her land.
“We have chickens, our farm dogs aren’t leashed, goats, roosters,” Jennings said. “This used to be country and I don’t want to fit into all the city rules.”
She and her husband bought their home where they live, not far from the country home where her grandparents lived, 15 years ago, Jennings said.
“I always knew O’Fallon was pushing, pushing. Honestly, you could call me naive, but I never would have figured the progress would have come this far so fast,” Jennings said. “I was used to being able to let the kids run and there was never people around. So other than falling down and hitting each other with a stick or something, there was nothing to worry about. We’ve had good luck so far with good neighbors. But we have to be more vigilant in some ways.”
Jennings says she also worries about increased traffic because of new retail. Traffic is one thing Marsh said her constituents expressed concern about, saying they want to see the area stay farmland. She pointed out the property has been zoned commercial for more than 10 years. The City Council did, however, reject an initial plan from the developer that would have included a restaurant with a drive-thru.
“Commercial would go there at some point. We’re not rezoning agriculture to make it commercial,” Marsh said. “But I think we’ve been able to modify plans with additional buffering, take away the drive-thru and add trees and berms to try to minimize the impact with the surrounding areas.”
There would be three entrances to the retail center — a main entrance on Milburn School Road, a second on Old Collinsville Road and a third from one of the planned subdivisions. The proposal also includes a 6-foot sidewalk along all three entrances. The new development will be located just west of Skyline Church, which opened in its new location in April.
Next summer, the city will replace the four-way stop at Old Collinsville and Milburn School roads with a roundabout, the city administrator said.
Just north of the planned retail center are two subdivisions — one 53-acre subdivision with 117 single family lots called Augusta Greens and another 11-acre subdivision with 39 maintenance-free single family lots called The Enclave at August Greens. Residents of The Enclave will pay into a homeowner’s association that takes care of the exterior of the home, including mowing, landscaping and shoveling snow, according to Denton. The development’s website indicates the homes are priced in the $300,000 range.
Washington, Mo. civil engineering and design firm Buescher, Ditch & Associates prepared the plans for applicant David Glarner of St. Louis-based Raven Realty IV, LLC.