Planning and Zoning Meeting Agendas and Minutes
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Planning and Zoning Commission Meeting
PLANNING & ZONING COMMISSION MEETING
1. Call to Order
2. Approval of Minutes
3. Capital Improvement Plan
4. SUE 11-05 Special Use Exception
PLANNING & ZONING COMMISSION BRIEFS
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Melanie Parrott of Black and Veatch, an engineering firm that is working as AT&T’s agent, has submitted this petition to amend the provisions of Ordinance 2660, which granted AT&T a special use exception to erect a 50’ tall cellular utility tower in New Ballwin Park in 1997. The tower is a stealth monopole design disguised as a flagpole. The pole has interior mounted antennas and equipment mounted inside a structure that was built as an addition to the restroom facility near the base of the tower.
This petition proposes to amend the design of the tower by replacing the top 18’ with a redesigned antenna enclosure that will accommodate new antennas but substantially change the outward appearance of the tow-er. Presently this top part of the tower is 18” in diameter. The proposed new top portion of the tower will be 32” in diameter to accommodate the larger antennas. The tower will not be made taller and the new equipment required to operate the new antennas will be installed within the existing equipment building. No change to the ground lease will be necessary to accommodate this change.
The language of the lease and the applicable Ballwin regulations appear to allow AT&T to replace and up-grade equipment and antennas within the leasehold area without zoning approval. However, the special use exception that authorized the erection of a utility and a structure taller than is otherwise allowed by the PA zoning specified the tower’s design and silhouette, so an amendment to the SUE is needed to allow the rede-sign of the tower.
RECORD OF PROCEEDINGS
The meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission was called to order by Chairman Michael Wind at 7:02 p.m. Members in attendance were:
Alderman Fleming was absent due to a work commitment; Commissioners Apel and Theodore were ab-sent due to illness.
Approval of Minutes
A motion was made by Secretary Karr and seconded by Commissioner Wright to approve the minutes of the November 7, 2011 meeting of the Planning & Zoning Commission as submitted. The motion received unanimous approval from the Commission members present.
Capital Improvement Plan
Finance Officer Glenda Loehr presented the Capital Improvement Plan for 2012 to the Commission. Ms. Loehr noted the change in format, saying that the City previously moved some of the capital equipment (trucks, etc.) to the operating side of the budget, since it was used for operations. Going forward, the City plans to have all its bond debt paid off by 2013, which will free up funds for the operation and maintenance of the capital equipment that is already in place. Ms. Loehr said that the Capital Improvement Plan now includes projects with a cost of $250,000 or more. Projects that are smaller than that are included in the Operating Budget.
Finance Officer Loehr noted that the City is projected to end 2011 with a Capital Improvement Plan fund balance of approximately $658,035 to be used in 2012. The largest expenditure in the Capital Improve-ment Plan budget for 2012 is the Kehrs Mill Resurfacing/Sidewalks project.
Chairman Wind asked if establishing the $250,000 and higher figure used to determine a “capital im-provement” is standard accounting practice. Finance Officer Loehr said that there is no predetermined “standard” figure.
Mayor Pogue noted that the bond payoff approved by the Board of Aldermen is a significant accom-plishment. The city will be debt-free by the end of 2013.
Secretary Karr made a motion to approve the Capital Improvement Plan 2012. Commissioner Utt se-conded the motion, which received unanimous approval from the Commission members present.
Commissioner Utt stated that he would be excusing himself before consideration of the petition, due to his employment with AT&T, unless there were any questions for him. Chairman Wind said that he could stay and listen if he wished. City Attorney Jones said that as long Commissioner Utt didn’t participate in the discussion or vote on the petition, he did not have to leave. Commissioner Utt chose to stay for the remainder of the meeting.
Mr. Steve Walters of AT&T addressed the Commission. Mr. Walters said that AT&T is currently under-going a nationwide upgrade to every cell site to accommodate the 4G technology. There are 20-30 “stealth” structures in the St. Louis metropolitan area that are “flagpoles” like the subject of this petition. With flagpoles, all the equipment must fit inside the pole. The smallest available diameter that will work with the upgraded equipment is 32”. The petitioner is proposing to increase this stealth pole from an 18” diameter pole to a 32” diameter from top to bottom.
Mr. Walters said that in other jurisdictions, it has been recommended to remove the flag, as well as paint-ing the pole an off-white color so that it’s not so bright. These approaches have been allowed in Chester-field, Town & Country and elsewhere in St. Louis County.
Chairman Wind asked if additional landscaping around the pole is an option. Mr. Walter said that fast-growing pine trees can be planted around the base to screen the lower twenty feet of the pole. Discussion was held regarding options to making the site look better, which included making the flag and the ball at the top of the pole larger so that they are in proportion to the wider pole. Chairman Wind asked if the tower could accommodate an extension. Mr. Walter said yes.
Mayor Pogue asked if there is any other technology available to accommodate the 4G service other than cell towers. Mr. Walters said there isn’t at this time.
City Attorney Jones asked City Planner Aiken if the structure is recharacterized as a tower rather than a disguised support structure, are there additional requirements. Mr. Aiken said the requirements are fun-damentally the same. Chairman Wind asked if the pole could be moved behind the building. City Plan-ner Aiken said it is behind the building, since the building faces the playground. He said currently the tower is under a lease agreement, and moving it would require the renegotiation of that lease. That is out-side the scope of the discussion of this petition.
City Planner Aiken said that he had spoken with Parks Director Linda Bruer regarding keeping the struc-ture as a flagpole. Ms. Bruer said that the neighborhood is used to it being a flagpole and may object if the flag is removed.
Mayor Pogue asked if this tower is potentially a site for additional carriers. Mr. Walter said it could be. Mayor Pogue said he likes the idea of keeping the flag and incorporating additional landscaping. Chair-man Wind asked if the Ballwin Parks Department should manage the installation of the landscaping. Mayor Pogue said that with the cell tower at the Pointe, the petitioner agreed to an allowance for mainte-nance by the City’s parks department. Raising the tower an additional ten feet was discussed. This would help the height to diameter proportions and also allows for additional users.
Chairman Wind reopened the public hearing and asked if there were any opponents who wished to speak in opposition to Petition SUE 11-05. There were none. Chairman Wind asked if there were any propo-nents wishing to speak in favor of the petition. There were none, and Chairman Wind declared the public hearing closed.
Chairman Wind announced that Commissioner Pat Apel resigned from the Planning & Zoning Commis-sion as of January 1, 2012, due to business commitments. Chairman Wind thanked Mr. Apel for his time, efforts, and contributions to the Planning & Zoning Commission. Mayor Pogue said that he notified the Board of Aldermen that there is a vacancy for a Ward 3 commissioner. He asked that anyone who would like to submit a name for consideration email him.
Mayor Pogue said that Mr. Bill Biermann, the developer of the U-Gas site, came to the last Board of Al-dermen meeting to discuss the possibility of having a Transportation Development District on that site. City Attorney Jones will brief the Board on its options.
Chairman Wind shared a letter he received from a Ballwin resident voicing his concerns and requesting that the Planning & Zoning Commission be cognizant of the ecological ramifications of development.
A motion was made by Secretary Karr and seconded by Mayor Pogue to adjourn the meeting. The mo-tion received unanimous approval, and the meeting was adjourned at 8:00 p.m.
Michael Wind, Chairman