Wednesday, January 05, 2011

St. Louis County planners may promote living closer together

PHIL SUTIN > 314-863-2812

St. Louis County planners want to change the county's zoning codes to encourage people to live closer together to save energy and the environment.

The current codes reflect society's reliance on the automobile and people's preference for stand-alone houses, one to a lot.

That's not the future of housing, experts say.

The county's current codes cover the unincorporated area, the home of about a third of the county's residents. They now favor separating commerce from residential and separating single-family from multifamily housing.

The new codes would encourage communities in which apartments, condos, houses, offices, stores and restaurants mix together.

And the new codes would promote a shift away from the automobile. For instance, new codes might reduce the number of parking spaces a developer must provide.

John King, an attorney who for decades has represented developers on zoning matters, said the county effort is a necessity.

"There is a need for density to make sure that costs don't go out of sight. People can't afford to buy a house or live in a house," he said.

"Developers will welcome this," King said.

With the unincorporated part of the county largely built up, the changes would have more effect on redevelopment of older, established areas. And they may influence municipalities, which set their own codes.
The county planners have interviewed four consulting companies that are finalists for the code revision project. A winner is expected to be selected soon.

The county did not identify the companies. About $150,000 from an $8.4 million federal stimulus grant to the county will pay for the work, said Gail Choate, a county planning official.

The planners hope the County Council ultimately would approve changes in the zoning code no later than a year and a half from now.

The changes would encourage "places where people can work, live, play and walk and use public transportation," said Jen Samson, the county's project manager for the effort.

Choate noted that some older areas of the county, such as in Affton and Lemay, mix commercial with residential, with houses and stores close together.

"But you still need a car to get to the stores" on such roads as Gravois Road in Affton, she said.

Among the issues the consultants and planners would consider are:
(click here to read the issues and the rest of the story)


  1. Anonymous2:08 PM

    In this article the county planners say that they hope to get county council approval of new zoning code “no later than a year and a half from now”. You see, they can plan ahead. It gives us pause to wonder why it couldn’t be done with the hauler notification as part of the trash district program. And isn’t this plan turning the county into the city and negating the reasons people moved to the county in the first place? Jefferson, Franklin, and St. Charles counties will undoubtedly be grateful for the building boom and the quantum jump in tax revenue.

  2. Anonymous11:01 AM

    Of course developers will welcome this idea. It gives them the authority to build more buildings on less land thereby increasing their profit margin. What’s not to like ?

  3. Anonymous11:59 AM

    This is the kind of situation most people moved from the city to the county to get away from. Have the people that are pushing for this given any thought to whether the existing water, sewer , electrical, gas, roads and other services into these areas are adequate to a higher population density or will they all have to be upgraded at consumer and taxpayer expense? It also seems that crime increases in areas where people are packed in to tight. Won’t putting more people on less land create parking as well as traffic problems/ Won’t it also concentrate more air pollution into a small area? These are the kind of questions that need to be addressed before proceeding with the usual Clayton knee jerk.

  4. Anonymous5:05 PM

    This move is sure to make Jefferson, Franklin, St. Charles, and several nearby counties in Illinois grateful. It will cause them to get an influx of new residents and new tax revenue as people leave St. Louis County and move to a place where they can live the way they choose to live.

  5. Anonymous8:09 AM

    Maybe this kind of KOWTOW ing to business interests is why St. Louis County’s domain name is “.com” just as for profit businesses,instead of “.gov” like other government agencies. Some governments have a ”.org” domain but, that implies that it is organized.

  6. Anonymous8:43 AM

    BEWARE of abuses of eminent domain!

  7. Anonymous7:57 AM

    People, especially the county council, need to consider the potential for abuses of eminent domain that may arise from a plan like this.