Council committee gives early approval to carwash project, Seven Hills Road development

Conceptual artwork for the proposed Rainstorm Car Wash.
(Submitted Photo)

By Martha Stoffel

O’FALLON – The Community Development Committee went against the Planning Commission’s recommendation and approved to send to council plans for a development to be located at the northwest corner of Hartman Lane and Frank-Scott Parkway that will include a Rainstorm tunnel car wash and office buildings.

The Planning Commission met last week and voted 2-7 against the proposed development. During public comment at the Community Development Committee, the real estate broker for the property addressed concerns brought up by the Planning Commission regarding the necessity for another car wash in O’Fallon, traffic flow on Hartman Lane and the plan for the remainder of the land. 

Community Development Director Ted Shekell let the committee know the petitioner has been very reasonable to work with, and has gone above and beyond to accommodate requests of the city and county regarding traffic flow and future development proposals. 

The development has a single entrance located on Hartman Lane. It was recommended by the county the entrance be in-line with the entrance for the Circle K located across the street. To accommodate the request, the petitioner has made plans to purchase the parcel of land north of the original parcel to place the entrance in the desired location and provide more development opportunities. 

The city had raised some concerns with the latest proposed entrance to the car wash being too close to the development entrance on Hartman Lane. The developer had plans in hand at the meeting where a new design concept had already been developed based on the feedback from the city. 

The lone objector to the project on the committee was Ward 7 Alderman David Cozad. His main concern was this corner being one of the last marketable corners in O’Fallon and whether a car wash is fitting for that location. Ward 5 Alderman Christopher Monroe asked city staff if there have been any other interests on the property in recent years. Shekell indicated this was the first proposal they have received. The project will appear for first reading at the next City Council meeting on Tuesday, January 22. 

A mixed-use project on Seven Hills Road that received a lot of public attention at last week’s Planning Commission only had two questions from the public Monday night that involved water flow and retention. Both questions were answered favorable for those residents by the project’s civil engineer. 

The project being proposed is for approximately 27-acres that sits just north of Wesley Drive on the east side N. Seven Hills Road, and will consists of office, senior living and residential land uses. 

Closest to the road will be three office buildings, totaling 25,300 square feet, to be known as The Seven Hills Professional Center. Behind the office buildings will be 3-phased senior living center to be known as Vantage Pointe at O’Fallon. This will include a 92-bed assisted living and memory care facility, a 30-unit independent care building and 18 independent living cottages. Finally, the remaining 14-acres will be used for development of a 23-lot, two-family home subdivision to be known as Patio Homes North. This subdivision will be complimentary to the Patio Homes at Seven Hills development planned and approved off Wesley.  

Residents who spoke at last week’s planning commission raised concerns about current traffic, and the impact on traffic this project would have. City staff referenced a recent traffic study that has indicated a left-turn lane is currently needed from N. Seven Hills Road west onto Wesley Drive and from Wesley Drive south onto N. Seven Hills Road. The Public Works department will be working on developing a solution for that intersection in the near future.

The future land use map had this parcel as single-family homes, and staff said the current proposal would be a 75.99 percent decrease in potential traffic from the original land use map. The developer, Rich Gorazd, asked for committee and council support of the project saying “we’re bringing a retirement community…memory care and villas and older people who don’t have children. This is about as good of a development as you can ask for in an open field. Even single-family houses would certainly impact it more. When you’ve got an 80-acre track, something’s going to fill it up, and I don’t know that you could ask for something better than a retirement community.” 

The committee unanimously approved all agenda items related to this project. Those items were related to annexation, rezoning, amending the future land use map and preliminary plat approval. A public hearing for the annexation will be held at the next City Council meeting, all items will go before council on Tuesday, January 22. 

Other committee items approved to be sent to council:

• Zoning and a redevelopment agreement regarding the Central Park TIF for a Fairfield Inn hotel, to be located on Central Park Drive east of the Gold’s Gym.

• Zoning amendment for the Hartman Lane medical office to be located between Hardee’s and Mathnasium. Concerns were raised by committee members and council members in attendance regarding traffic on Hartman Lane. Staff indicated previous proposals for the vacant land have been for high-impact commercial properties like a fast food restaurant or grocery store. They believe a medical office building is an ideal, low-impact project that will provide development to land that has been vacant for many years. The left turn lane does extend to where the development entrance will be, and there will be cross-access with neighboring businesses for alternate entrances and exits.

• Special Event permit for Home Builders event at Gateway Classic Cars on February 22-24. 

• Special Event permit for the McKendree RecPlex to extend usage of temporary signs until the completion of roadwork will allow the construction of the permanent, monument sign ultimately planned for the development. The committee and present council members discussed the extension with relation to the roads to be built within the development, as well as the traffic signal and road expansion work on Troy-Scott Road. They indicated a desire to not provide any additional extensions to the temporary sign request, and are hoping the road work will be completed by the end of June, as projected by the developer.