By Martha Stoffel
O’FALLON – The O’Fallon City Council approved on first reading multiple development projects at Tuesday’s meeting.
Public comments were made regarding a mixed-use project on N. Seven Hills Road and a tunnel car wash with office buildings at the intersection of Frank Scott Parkway and Hartman Lane. Both projects have received several public comments over the course of the planning commission and community development committee meetings.
The mixed-use 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 subdivision planned and approved off Wesley just south of the proposed development which was originally zoned for commercial buildings.
Two residents of the Prairie Crossing subdivision, located on the west side of N. Seven Hills Road, addressed the council during the public hearing for the parcel. Dale Huegen said he moved to O’Fallon a couple of years ago from Clinton County and specifically asked his realtor about the farm land on the east side of N. Seven Hills that he can see out of his back windows. According to Huegen, his realtor told him that property was zoned as single-family homes. Huegen ultimately asked the council to consider the original plan.
Prairie Crossing resident Robert Dawson also addressed the council about the project, asking them to proactively address the issues like traffic before approving the development. City staff mentioned during last week’s community development committee meeting a recent traffic study 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.
During council discussion prior to voting on three ordinances pertaining to this project, Ward 4 Alderman Mark Morton wanted the residents to know regarding their traffic concern, “there is a traffic problem currently. The developer has been a tremendous developer for O’Fallon, and the traffic is not his issue it’s a result of something else further along north,” and the resolution is tied to grant funds. Morton also wanted residents to know that the developer has agreed to move the commercial buildings back further from the road and will be adding additional landscaping along Seven Hills to block more of the view of the buildings.
The ordinance annexing the parcel was approved 12-1, with Ward 2 alderman Bob Kueker voting no because he “would like to study the traffic situation a little more at Wesley Drive and along Seven Hills” and Ward 7 alderman Dan Witt abstaining to all items because of a personal connection with the project. The ordinance amending the future land use map was approved 13-0, and the ordinance for zoning also approved 12-1 with Kueker voting no.
Ken Gossling, as a representative for developer Darrell Shelton, addressed the council regarding the proposed tunnel car wash and office building development at the intersection of Frank Scott Parkway and Hartman Lane. Shelton, a long-time developer in O’Fallon, was out of town and could not attend the meeting.
Shelton is currently developing a 214-unit apartment complex to the north of the proposed development. He does not feel a car wash with office buildings is a good development plan for that “prime corner lot,” and it could be developed into several thousand square feet of retail space. Shelton does not feel like anyone is going to develop an office building next to a car wash, with one of the buildings being in the noise radius which would potentially be disturbing to office users. “The reality is, Rainstorm is doing the minimum they have to do to open their doors without consideration of the bigger picture of the impact squeezing in on the corner will have on the balance of the site.”
Rick Wilburn of Kaskaskia Engineering Group, representing the Rainstorm development, reminded the council of the market analysis done regarding the need for a car wash, and that they have determined this to be an ideal location for their sixteenth Rainstorm car wash in the three-state area. Wilburn asked the council to consider several things; staff’s positive recommendation of the project, a detailed traffic study that was performed and the recommendations that were approved and executed, and site design that has been modified multiple times. “We have a use here which is going to take vacant land that has been on the city’s tax rolls for many years and has had essentially, from what we understand from staff, has had next to no interest in development.”
Ordinances for both projects will appear before the Community Development Committee for a second time at their meeting next Monday, January 28 at 6:00pm at City Hall, with a second reading with Council on Monday, February 4.
Also approved on first reading
• 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. Staff indicated during last week’s community development committee meeting 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.