Lindenwood’s amended request for student housing permits may include additional sites in Belleville

Lindenwood University-Belleville will amend its request for special-use permits for students to live in homes and apartment buildings and Mayor Mark Eckert said it’s possible that the college will increase the number of sites on the petition before the zoning board.

The school’s request for special-use permits for 36 buildings had been scheduled to be heard by the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals on Thursday night but Lindenwood withdrew its request on Thursday and is expected to file an amended request next week.

Eckert said questions have been raised about the status of Lindenwood buildings used for student housing that were not on the list of 36 properties scheduled for review Thursday night.

“We’re going to take a hard look at that and we’re going to correct it,” he said, noting that it is possible for the number of sites to increase.

Brett Barger, interim president of Lindenwood’s Belleville campus, declined to comment on details of the properties that could be added to the school’s request. However, he said, “We’ll keep working with the city to make sure all that paperwork is up to date and all the properties are included.”

Residents who live near the campus have complained to aldermen during two City Council meetings in September about the number of students moving into their neighborhoods. They want the city to only allow three students per house because they believe it is safer and it would cut down on the noise, traffic and litter in their neighborhoods.

A current city ordinance allows Lindenwood to put three to 16 students in homes but city officials have proposed setting the maximum at 10 students per building.

The planning department had said it would recommend the zoning board to approve Lindenwood’s request as long as the school agreed to cap the number of students in a building at 10.

Barger said he expects Lindenwood’s amended application to be heard by the zoning board in October and he looks forward to answering questions about the school. The advisory zoning board gives recommendations to the City Council, which makes the final decision.

“We’ve had a good opportunity to interact with the residents in the area and interact with the mayor and city as well,” Barger said.

Students already live in many of the homes that were scheduled to be heard on Thursday night. Eckert has said Lindenwood apologized for not getting the special-use permits before school began in August.