- Eastern Missouri Chapter of the Sierra Club
- Forest ReLeaf of Missouri
- Gateway Greening
- Missouri Coalition for the Environment
- The Open Space Council
- Ozark Regional Land Trust
- St. Louis Audubon Society
- U.S. Green Building Council, Missouri Gateway Chapter.
We are pleased to announce the following organizations have endorsed our Feasibility Study for Sustainable Development and Conservation Options for the Maryland Park Lake District.
We are pleased to release the results of our feasibility study for sustainable development in the Maryland Park Lake District.
This feasibility study is a concise, high level document that outlines opportunities and a process for future sustainable development and conservation in the Maryland Park Lake District. While this report does not make specific recommendations for the type of sustainable development or where conservation should occur, it recommends that a full green infrastructure plan and ecosystem evaluation be undertaken.
We hope this feasibility study and future analysis and planning can lead to development that follows sustainable principles, invests in green infrastructure, and promotes and encourages conservation.
As one of the largest undeveloped areas in the St. Louis metropolitan region, NOW is a once in a lifetime opportunity to promote sustainable development that will create value for landowners, the city, the region, habitat, and wildlife for generations to come.
Multiple groups have already endorsed the report. Additional groups are expected to endorse the report in upcoming months.
We are happy to share that report, which you can download here.
If we accept, however begrudgingly, that there will be commercial development in the Howard Bend floodplain (now called Maryland Park Lake District) of Maryland Heights, how can we guide the city and developers toward sustainable development principles?
That question is what spurred Maryland Heights Residents for Responsible Growth to commission a Feasibility Study of Sustainable Development and Conservation for Maryland Heights.
Typically, large-scale developments -- of the type expected to come before the city's Planning Commission in the coming months -- are damaging to the local environment, disturbing watersheds, affecting water quality, degrading habitats, and reducing the benefits of open space for health and recreation.
The study hopes to identify specific methods to promote sustainable development and conservation in the area, before development proposals reach the Planning Commission this summer. The project is timely because the city of Maryland Heights is currently re-evaluating its Comprehensive Plan, the guiding document for area development.
The City has indicated a need for the study, but lacks the time to devote to it; Comprehensive Plan revisions are on a fast-track to change land use in the area to respond to upcoming proposals. The planning staff supports “sustainable development” in general, but needs more specific ideas and knowledge to guide changes to the Comprehensive Plan that will affect development for possibly decades to come.
This project represents a unique opportunity to create awareness, discussion and promotion of sustainable development and conservation options, at a time and place where such knowledge can have a lasting impact.
We will make the study available soon. You will be able to download it here. We welcome any feedback you may have.
For the last seven years, development in the Maryland Heights floodplain has been hampered by the economy. Developers had little money, and the market didn't really want the office/flex/distribution development options offered by the city.
With the economy slowly recovering, development demand is reemerging but what the market is demanding has changed. Property for residential developments is one example and until a change in city policy earlier this month, residential development was prohibited in the floodplain. This is no longer the case!
Thus, when a developer proposed almost 1,000 units of new apartments and single family housing options, the city was overjoyed -- as were many residents. The bad news is, the development is proposed for the River Valley Planning District, which is in the floodplain in the western part of the city that abuts the Missouri River. See proposed plan here.
Residential building in the floodplain? Sounds like a pretty bad idea to the majority of people not financially invested in the building and maintenance of the levee. The Howard Bend Levee District and the City of Maryland Heights continue to support the certified 500-year levee built after the Great Floods of 1993 and 1995 and push for large scale development. We will continue to agree to disagree on this issue since due to the housing dilemma, new development pressure and a rising economy, the reality is residential buildings will probably soon rise in the floodplain.
Given this inevitability, how do we continue to push for the principles of conservation, preservation of open space, and environmental stewardship? Those are the questions our group has been focused on for several months and we have a plan! It's not so sexily called "green infrastructure", but if implemented it would put our City on the map as a forward thinking, cutting edge place to be. You'll be hearing a lot more about this green infrastructure idea from us in the coming weeks and months, so STAY TUNED!!
During a routine Planning Commission in May, Maryland Heights changed the future of the city's growth. Here's how: it changed the types of development allowed in the Howard Bend** planning area.
The Howard Bend area is as large as the rest of the Maryland Heights; any changes here could theoretically double the amount of developed area in our city. In a perfect world we would like to keep this unique area exactly the way it is; but since we're short the few tens of millions of dollars we need to buy all the land, what we have been doing is advocating for an educated, thoughtful and sustainable comprehensive plan for the city's development. This plan should require best practices from any developers who want to build here, balancing the clear environmental and human safety protections needed with the wish for land owners to make money on their investments.
So without further ado, here are the major changes in land use for the Howard Bend Planning District:
While we still are fully opposed to allowing any new residential uses in the floodplain, let alone 1000 new homes, the other changes are a remarkable turn toward a more enlightened view of the potential uses for this land which makes up the majority of square miles of the city.
We are very excited about the changes banning big box retail stores and allowing agriculture back into this area. Now we ask that the development that is allowed, be sustainable development with an emphasis on balancing ecological necessity with financial wishes.
**For Future Reference, the Howard Bend area is now officially called "the Maryland Park Lake District".
This Tuesday, January 13th, the Planning Commission will be meeting at 7pm. Part of this meeting will be a Public Hearing to change the Comprehensive Plan. They will be discussing the plan for the city as a whole, but the focus is really on the section in Howard Bend (the area between the bluffs and the river; includes Creve Coeur Park, Riverport and all the farmland and wetlands that you see along MH Expressway/141).
The city has been trying for years to get developers to come and build large scale commercial development in the floodplain along Maryland Heights Expressway by Creve Coeur Park. Currently, McBride and Sons is trying to build a mixed use residential and retail development on River Valley Drive building over active farmland, the old abandoned airfield and right up to the levee. They want to build nearly 1000 homes right next to the Water Plant along the levee.
The next couple meetings are the only chance the public will have to tell the planning commission, the Mayor and the City Council that we don't want to destroy the best part of our city by becoming another Chesterfield Valley. Well, worse than that.... even Chesterfield hasn't allowed houses in THEIR floodplain!
Why should we repeat the same mistakes that other communities have spent billions of dollars and decades trying to fix? Just because other cities have gone ahead with poor planning decisions, doesn't mean we should follow suit. We have the benefit of hindsight here. We can look at their mistakes and say "Not us, not here!" Why can't we set the standard for smart and creative planning? Why can't WE BE BETTER?!
Please help us pack the house on Tuesday night. Sign up to speak; we need to show the City Officials that we are serious about protecting the best part of our community. Bring your friends and neighbors to the Maryland Heights Government Center Tuesday, 1/13/15 at 7pm!
The Maryland Heights Planning Commission has agreed to review the City's Comprehensive plan and possibly amend it to make residential housing possible in the Howard Bend FLOOD PLAIN. Sounds crazy right? Well, last month, Councilman Ed Dirck and Mayor Mike Moeller, stood before the Planning Commission and urged them to allow just that. Just 5 months before, in June, Councilman Dirck swore that single family housing had no place in this area. What has changed? Nothing that we know of. What does Mr. Dirck know that we don't? Ask him. Ask the Mayor why he is so gung-ho in supporting a development that will cost our city more than it will make. Better yet, check out their campaign finance reports (all public record!). You can ask them in person on November 25th, or you can call or e-mail them beforehand.
On Tuesday November 25th at 6pm, there is a City Council Workshop open to the public, that everyone needs to attend. Directly after this workshop is the Planning Commission meeting at 7pm.
The 6pm meeting is open to the public, but public comments will not be taken until the 7pm Planning Commission meeting. This is a watershed moment for our city (pun intended). Do not let it pass by without YOUR input. We have thousands of intelligent, creative, thoughtful citizens in Maryland Heights. Come put that talent to use in making our city a better place to live. We have to protect what we love about Maryland Heights from greed, recklessness and apathy. This is OUR time, this is our OPPORTUNITY.
Please do everything you can to attend one or both meetings on Tuesday. It is important that our City Officials see that Maryland Heights Residents DO NOT support building houses in the floodplain. Right now, the council seems to think that residents do support this development, simply because they haven't heard otherwise. Tell them this is a bad idea!
Please tell your friends and neighbors, and anyone else you know that lives in Maryland Heights to go to this meeting and/or to call their council-reps. It is important that the Residents of Maryland Heights are represented during this process; any decisions made here will open the floodgates for development here.
This housing/mixed use development is being used solely to drive the large scale retail developments that developers want along the Maryland Heights Expressway. We don't need that old bad idea and we definitely don't need this new bad idea! Tell the planning commission and the city council
Right now Residential Uses are mostly prohibited in Howard Bend (the area including Creve Coeur Park from the bluffs to the Missouri River and from I-70 to south of Page). We need to keep it that way. Agriculture and Recreation are strong economic growth engines. Many other cities and states realized this long ago and are protecting these uses. Why are we eliminating these in Maryland Heights?
You can see the documents prepared by the city planner's office here. These documents will be used by the council and planning commission as a basis for their decisions. They are pretty short reads, but contain a lot of good information.
See You Tuesday!
How excited are you about building new homes in the floodplain? Reporters could soon be broadcasting this picture live from our fair city if McBride & Sons home-builders have their way.
McBride & Sons, one of the largest home builders in the country, has decided they want to build more than 1000 homes in the floodplain, right between the Howard Bend Levee and the Creve Coeur Park wetlands. How many trillions of dollars do taxpayers need to spend bailing out flooded homes and businesses? We spent billions moving houses and entire TOWNS out of floodplains after the '93, '95, '98 and 2008 floods (notice a pattern?). Homeowners are NOT required to purchase flood insurance, so we will be bailing out more fools WHEN this land floods again. I'm excited, how about you?
How excited will Parkway Schools be when they have to find space for 400-600 more children? That will fill a WHOLE NEW elementary school of kids!! Who pays for that? WE do! Who pays until this new school can be built? OUR CHILDREN pay with their education and their safety, in overcrowded schools until a new school can be built. Just say NO!
To summarize... for this 1 subdivision, with our endless pots of taxpayer money, we now need to bail out flooded homeowners, build at least 1 new school, pay more teachers, build a new police station, pay more police officers and widen River Valley Road. You might be asking yourself, "Is there MORE?!?" Well, yes... yes there is ALWAYS more! Once you have more than 1000 families (2000-4000 people) living in this subdivision, you will need a closer gas station, a closer grocery store, a closer everything! Plus, you can never build just ONE subdivision, they come in herds... a big one here, a small one there... houses, houses everywhere!
We need to put our collective foot down and say "No Way!" to development in our FLOODPLAIN. Join us this Tuesday, June 24th, at the Maryland Heights Government Center for the first public hearing. The developer will be asking the Planning Commission to rezone this Non-Urban/Agricultural land as a Residential Planned District. Stand up for our community and our future, by telling the Planning Commission to "Say NO Way" to residential development in the floodplain.
Photo Credit: Larry Williams
The 20th anniversary of the Great Flood of '93 is getting some attention this month, including this editorial in the St. Louis Post Dispatch on the current state of development in floodplains.
Our favorite snippet from the article is this: '“We said, if you don’t need to develop in a flood plain, don’t do it,” retired Brig. Gen. Gerald Galloway told the Post-Dispatch in 2005, when, more than a decade after the Great Flood, it was clear his report was being ignored.' Read the full Galloway report, written by 30 of the nation's top authorities on floodplain management, to see how close we came to common sense and how far we've strayed.
Developers and politicians still yearn to develop floodplain land into taxable commercial property. Look no further than the Maryland Heights Comprehensive Plan, which envisions almost every kind of development except single family homes -- although apartments and nursing homes are welcome -- in the floodplain between the Missouri River and Creve Coeur Park.
We need a different vision for how floodplains can be used productively to benefit the surrounding natural and human communities. Rather than chasing tax dollars on new commercial properties, cities should be protecting taxpayer dollars from future bailouts of properties that are doomed to flood again and again.
Rather than wait for developers to submit their own self-serving ideas, the Maryland Heights City Council members and the Planning Commission should be leading the charge on how to sustainably develop this unique land resource.
The third and final public meeting about how to improve Dorsett Road has come and gone, but your chance to weigh in on recommendations so far is open until Friday, June 22.
The scenarios range from more attractive lighting, to changing zoning codes to encourage different development, to safer pedestrian crossings to establishing a bike and walking trail on the south side of Dorsett throughout the city.
You can complete the same survey that meeting participants did by clicking here. The ideas presented in the survey have been cultivated and refined through the two previous public meetings and the online survey tool. Make sure to review the photos that go along with each question to help you answer and don't hesitate to contact the outreach coordinator with any questions: Beth Quindry, outreach coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org and 314.497.3126.
If you don't have internet access, paper copies of the survey are available at the Maryland Heights Government Center, 11911 Dorsett Road.
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Several members of MHRRG