Some people say we can’t stop this project because we can’t interfere with a landowner’s right to sell.  A landowner does have a right to sell, we’re agreed on that point.  But we CAN have a say in how the land is used once it’s sold.  The truth is no landowner can do whatever they want with their land in the City of Maryland Heights. For example, you can’t raise chickens on it.  And you can’t tear down your house and open a tavern in a residential area.

Can a landowner sell their property?  Yes.  Does that mean the buyer can put up whatever they want? No.  And no one knows this better than the Planning Commissioners and City Council members.  And now, you.

A landowner's right to sell doesn't mean developers can put up whatever they want.  We CAN SAY NO to Maryland Pointe.  Say it to the Planning Commission on Tuesday, August 23, and make sure your city council rep knows what you think, too.
 
 
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Yesterday's public hearing on the Maryland Pointe development drew a packed house that spilled out into the lobby.  Those in favor of the development included, predictably, the developers, several landowners and the Howard Bend Levee District. They were greatly outnumbered by speakers and attendees who oppose the project.

Altogether, 18 speakers had their say over an hour-and-a-half.  Opponents of the project were impressive in their diversity.  Some have lived in Maryland Heights all their lives, others for only a month.  There was Dr. Robert Criss, a professor from Washington University who is a well-known geologist and expert on floodplain development, a mother of two young boys, a retiree, an architect, a business owner, the executive director of the Coalition for the Environment and a mechanic, among others.  People -- young, old, male, female, from all walks of life -- stood at the podium and spoke eloquently about why this development should not be allowed.

Five planning commissioners attended the meeting, which was better than the four that showed up at the first hearing on May 10, but still two members shy of the full Planning Commission.  Because the Commission does not record the meeting or take detailed minutes, it is hard to see how anyone missing these meetings could be fully informed on the community impact of the project or understand the depth of feeling that runs against it.

The city did not present its report on the development's conceptual plan, as was expected, and therefore the Commission took no action on the proposal.  The city has apparently asked for more information from the developer before making their review final.  The Commission left the public hearing open until this new information is submitted and reviewed. 

The next public hearing will most likely be June 28, July 12 or July 26.  Let's use this time to:
-- Educate friends and neighbors on why this development is bad for Maryland Heights;

-- Get more people to sSign our petition; and

-- Call or email your council representatives to let them know how you want them to vote when the time comes.

There is a rumor going around that this development can’t be stopped, but it’s just that:  a RUMOR.  Working together, we CAN stop this development!

 
 
If you're wondering what the next step is in the fight to oppose the Maryland Pointe development next to Creve Coeur Park, here it is:  Come to the next Maryland Heights Planning Commission meeting on Tuesday, May 24, at 7 p.m. at the Government Center.  The City is going to present its review of the Maryland Pointe plan, including their view of how it does and does not fit into the City's plan for this area.

What is important is that after hearing the report, the Planning Commission can vote "no" to the idea of rezoning this area to allow for Maryland Pointe's retail vision.  Or, they can vote "yes" to the idea of rezoning, and ask the developer to present a more detailed plan.  In other words, give it a green light. 

By all accounts, this is a plan that should be stopped in its tracks.  You need to be there to help make the point.  Come. Speak. 
 
 
Last Tuesday, May 10, a developer asked the Planning Commission to rezone 191 acres in the Howard Bend floodplain, across from Creve Coeur Park, so it can develop 1.4 million square feet with large retail stores, restaurants, gas stations and the like.

After the developers presented their plan, 10 people spoke to the Planning Commission and an audience of more than 100 people.  None spoke in favor of the development.  If you missed the meeting, the Suburban Journal posted a pretty thorough summary.

The City's Planning Department has reviewed the plan and will present its findings at the next Planning Commission meeting on May 24.  At that meeting, the Commission may vote to reject the proposal or clear it for the next step.

Come to the meeting May 24 and let them know what you think they should do!  
 
 
At our monthly Second Saturday community meeting yesterday, Ward 2 Council member Kim Baker and Ward 3 Council member Chuck Caverly discussed development options near Creve Coeur Park with residents.  Caverly spent about a decade on the Planning Commission; while Baker is new to some of the issues, her husband, Darrell Baker, has been a Planning Commissioner at least as far back as 2008. 

What would, for example, a Wal-Mart store in Howard Bend do to businesses along Dorsett and McKelvey?  How do we avoid a new retail center from sucking under business from other parts of Maryland Heights?  Is it possible to attract unique stores, not available elsewhere in the metro area?  Something that adds to the area, rather than just moves business-as-usual around?

Pay close attention to these issues and discussions, as they will affect the future of Maryland Heights as we know it.
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We recently conducted a telephone survey of Maryland Heights residents to gauge interest in development proposals in Howard Bend, next to Creve Coeur Park.  Quite a few people want to know more.  So, we're offering two meeting times to come learn about development proposals currently in process and what our group is doing in response.  You can find out more by clicking here.  Hope to see you there.
 
 
Tuesday, November 3, the St. Louis County Council is scheduled to make a final vote on rezoning farmland in North County St. Louis, adjacent to the Columbia Bottom Conservation Area. They are preparing the way for a 375+ acre casino and entertainment complex.

Why should Maryland Heights residents care?
There are a lot of reasons to object to this plan, but the one that will hit closest to home is MONEY. The building of yet another casino within a 15-20 minute drive of Maryland Heights will create a large hole in our city revenues. The City of Maryland Heights receives a good chunk of revenue from Harrah's Casino; a hit to Harrah's revenue is a direct hit to Maryland Heights' revenue. Just as it has been proven that building large big-box retail centers does not add new revenue or new jobs to our region, it just moves the same money and jobs to a new place. A new casino will not bring new revenue to St. Louis County.

The only thing missing from this misguided plan is an offer of TIF funds to help build the casino in St. Louis, a city who already has half the casinos in the state. I'm sure that will come if a casino license becomes available and if it is awarded to St. Louis.

Developing this area in North St. Louis County brings up all of the same issues that we have here with the Howard Bend development plans:
  •   Increased taxes for all citizens to pay for infrastructure costs
  •  Increased MSD storm water fees and increased flooding, increased   pollution and degradation of our drinking water source
  • Destruction of wildlife habitat and wetlands, including disruption of a major international flyway for migrating birds
  • The loss of local farmland and a secure local food source.                                                                                                                       
The Spanish Lake Community Association has formed a group called the Common Sense Coalition to fight the approval of this rezoning. For more detailed information on their efforts please go to Spanish Lake Community Association

Action is critical!

It is very important that everyone take just 5 minutes and either call or e-mail their St. Louis County Council representative and tell them to vote against rezoning this property for a casino. It is time they become responsible for their actions. They need to stop playing shell games with our revenue by supporting irresponsible developments that degrade our communities and shift money around the region instead of bringing new economic opportunities into the county. They need to start supporting smart, sustainable developments that actually grow our economy.

To find your St. Louis County Council Representative and their contact information go to: St. Louis County Council