Myself and the taxpaying residents who live in the single-family residential homes surrounding Lindenwood University-Belleville would like to say, once again, that we are not against LU-B and are excited that they chose Belleville to call home, just like we did.
Belleville currently has a single-family residential ordinance in place that covers everything from trash receptacles, lawn regulations, number of pets, occupancy restrictions, etc. Every community I checked uses the same standard. It currently regulates the number of unrelated adults to three. This limitation is necessary for obvious reasons. It controls all the nuisance issues such as trash, noise, traffic and safety that arise when several people cohabitate.
The special use permit that LU-B is requesting from the city of Belleville exempts them from this three unrelated adults limitation and many others. LU-B wants to be allowed to put four to 16 unrelated adults in homes that previously held small families or three unrelated adults. Without having this permit approved, LU-B has already violated our city’s residential ordinance by allowing more than three students, trash bins behind our homes, removal of green space for parking and excessive light pollution. They are backpedaling now to get the permit and they are asking for forgiveness rather than permission.
The fact that the mayor and his staff released a Hail Mary solution the morning of what was to be the zoning board hearing speaks volumes about the quality of this original ordinance. Recommending to suddenly drop six students per house from the permit and to start inspecting annually is a red flag that we need to stop now and re-evaluate this ordinance. Making last-minute changes to a poor ordinance is not the solution. Our goal is to enforce safety and to maintain a quality of life for everyone. The question we have is “will the single-family residential ordinance be enforced now?” They have been in violation with these homes for more six weeks.
We’ve presented documents for six weeks showing that the city of St. Charles has always limited the number of students in homes to three and LU-St. Charles still grows and thrives. St. Charles city administration informed us that it has worked for them. Once LU has purchased an entire street or block the houses are usually demolished and dorms or classrooms are built. LU-St. Charles has been there since 1827 and LU-B will be here long after we residential neighbors are gone. In the interim, we should not be the victim of LU-B’s poor planning skills. Their lack of planning does not constitute an urgency or emergency on our part.
By the way: Where is the third dorm LU-B promised to build?
Dianne Rogge lives at 2015 W. A St. in Belleville, a block with 32 Lindenwood students. She has rallied neighbors to reduce the concentration of students per house.