Removing a proposed restaurant’s drive-thru window and callbox, along with other alterations, has made a commercial development plan off Milburn School Road more acceptable to some nearby residents and aldermen.
A revised ordinance amending zoning for a 4.13-acre parcel will be up for final approval at the O’Fallon City Council meeting Oct. 2.
David Glarner of Raven Realty IV requested a Planned Use for a commercial business district at 506 Old Collinsville Road that would include a 13,100-square foot retail building with a 4,800-square foot restaurant.
The vacant property was zoned B-1 for commercial development when it was annexed by the city in 2005.
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While there has been no word on specific tenants, the developer said the restaurant would not be fast-food, but either a fast-casual or a coffeehouse-type place. However, the plan included a drive-thru window and callbox, which prompted objections.
A pharmacy is one of the types of stores being targeted for the building on the west side of the property, Lopinot said. Community Development Director Ted Shekell mentioned that such a business would likely have packaged liquor sales, but there has been no indication the restaurant would serve alcohol, he said at the CDC meeting Sept. 11.
The property is adjacent to the Augusta Greens and The Enclave at August Greens subdivisions on the north, agricultural land to the east, Savannah Hills subdivision to the south and agriculture land and Far Oaks subdivision to the west. The site is accessed by Milburn School Road, Old Collinsville Road and Tea Olive Drive.
The Planning Commission unanimously approved the project after a public hearing Aug. 22. The city staff recommended it, too, but with certain stipulations, such as limiting restaurant hours of operation from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., and changes to the facade.
The ordinance had been sent back to the Community Development Committee after several aldermen, including Ward 5 representatives Andrew Lopinot and Courtney Marsh, expressed concerns during the ordinance’s first reading at the Sept. 5 council meeting. Three residents critical of the project spoke at the CDC meeting, and one resident addressed the council.
The developer’s submitted revised plan included site and landscape changes, and was approved 5-1 at the Sept. 11 CDC meeting. The council approved the first reading 11-3 at the Sept. 18 meeting, with aldermen Ned Drolet, Mark Morton and Dan Witt voting no.
“I just don’t think that is the kind of business they (residents) would like to have,” Witt said, stating that he thought Old Collinsville Road was not in any condition to sustain that kind of traffic.
Drolet said without tenants committed, he thought it was premature to make a decision at this time, preferring a later date for consideration.
Alderman Matthew Gilreath said the property will generate sales tax revenue that can help fund improvements.
“It was zoned commercial long before there were houses out there,” he said. “This is about long-term and being consistent.”
Alderman David Cozad said he was in favor of it.
“The developer made changes based on our concerns,” he said.
Lopinot said the developer also added outdoor seating, increased the landscaping by adding trees on the property line, and moved dumpster locations.
Lopinot and Marsh had talked to many residents about project, and thought there was a great deal of confusion. Both support the revisions and voted yes Sept. 18.
At that meeting, Marsh said she had received emails from residents over a two-three week period. “There seems to be a lot of miscommunication going on with regard to the type of business proposed for there,” she said.
Lopinot said he supported the proposal moving forward after the revisions were made.
“I have spoken to many residents who are on both sides of this development. Those who have expressed opposition have commented they don’t want fast food and are concerned about late hours. It is my understanding that the developer never intended for the restaurant to be a fast-food establishment and the city had already limited hours to 10 p.m.,” Lopinot said recently.
“I have also had a couple of folks against the development say they wouldn’t mind a local store or convenience store on that property, which is something that has always been in the proposal. I think the revisions have helped to address the concerns I have heard,” he said.
The zoning designation already allows for commercial development, so the city’s decision is to make sure the plans fit the city’s requirements.
“It is really not up to us to decide when the developer is allowed to build or who they want to bring in as tenants,” Lopinot said. “It is also my understanding that Fairview Heights has their side of the intersection zoned as commercial within their city limits.”