Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Gravois Creek Bridge and Grant's View Development

Well, two days ago the Mayor had a huge post prepared for you and Firefox's browser decided to crash and lose everything. I will recap for you now.

Last Thursday I went to the MoDOT open house. They are planning on reconstructing the Gravois Creek bridge just west of Grant's Trail and McNary Drive. The new bridge will have five lanes and a new signal. The work will take two months if they close Gravois completely. If they keep one lane open in each direction, it will be drawn out to six months. They were showing off a very nerdy and cool software called Sim Traffic that takes known traffic data and simulates what traffic would look like under altered conditions. Believe me. No one wants to see what it looks like on Laclede Station Road with that traffic backed up. I supported the full closure. It will be the dead of winter in 2008 and there will not be that many folks using the trail (which will remain unaffected.) My only complaint was a sidewalk on the south side that seemed to connect to nothing.

The big coup of the weekend was the arrival at the Mayor's Office of a huge package of architectural site plans for the Villages at Grant's View. One of the site plans was shown at the last ACBA meeting, so I asked the County Planning Dept. for a copy. I got 8 huge pages that will be nearly impossible to scan. I'll do my best to detail the plans here. Here's a map to get you oriented.

The latest revision of the plans call for 434 dwelling units. This is split into two areas of development: The 193 single family homes and 76 attached villas hug Musick Road on the West, and the very northwest corner at Gravois (about 1/2 of the area from Musick to McNary). Everything in front of Affton Athletic to the north is open common ground most likely as it is flood plain. There are two entrances to this part of the development, both on Musick Road.

The 164 condo units occupy the area east of McNary ajacent to Cor Jesu and bounded on the west by Grant's Trail. Access as it is shown right now is only via Gravois.

OTHER MAJOR POINTS: There is no access to McNary Road via Cor Jesu. This needs to get worked out, because according to Cor Jesu, their land deal rested on the fact that they got a signalized intersection in front of their place. MoDot says "no way" as they don't want signals within about 1000 ft. of one another as it never works. I point to the newly redone intersection of Laclede Station/Watson and Heege as a glowing example.

The developer is putting a sidewalk in along Musick and all the way down Gravois. This may also go as far as Laclede Station Rd. if they get the land for free to improve. I'm in support of this as it will increase access to the Trail. I think Trailnet will support this as well as long as there is not a vehicular crossing over the trail.

I am largely in support of this development. I know there are a few votes at risk here for me, but there is unquestionably a demand for new housing in inner ring suburbs. Price points on the condos are rumored to start about $150,000 which is similar to some of Affton's older single family homes. In addition, these units will likely sell at a high price which will benefit the surrounding residents. While I agree that it is a dense development, I don't think that anything can be too dense if there is enough demand for it to sell. Further, this will turn into a whole lot of new voters in Affton!

The Grantwood Village People have recently filed suit against the County to delay the development. (Ironically, not only has the name of the development changed, but so too has the name of the opposition to "Grassroots on Gravois".) To quote The Angry Villagers' blog when the developers changed their name: "BS by any other name is still BS, so we won't be fooled!!"

While I support their right to fight this development, I think they are going to suffer a major defeat if they mount a full-on lawsuit. Fortunately, I don't think they will get the chance. Since they are fighting the County, they now need a certain number of petition signatures from basically all over the county to take it to court. I think they will not succeed in this effort. Further, I think their lack of focus on the issues has muddied their chances. Here's a snip from their blog calling folks out to a meeting just over a month ago. Their issues are listed with my comments afterward. I think this shows that most of their issues have been dealt with or were ridiculous to start with:

TRAFFIC 900+ cars
(Your Mayor did the math on this. In most units the development allows 1.5 parking spaces per dwelling unit plus .5 spaces for guest parking. They have more than ample parking, meaning more than required by law totalling 928 spaces. However I think it unlikely that EVERY single space, including ALL guest parking spaces, will ever be used simultaneously. I think it less likely that they will all be on Gravois at the same time either.)

SAFETY Grant Bike Trail potential hazard
(Potential, yes, but the plan in my hands shows no access to McNary Rd. I think the developer would rather not have a grade crossing at Grant's Trail either.)

DENSITY 438 units (3 story high condos) 3 and 4 attached Villas
(I have no idea what the Angry Villagers have against 3-story buildings. The density arguement is only strong if they point to a number of people per acre and say that it is too high.)

FLOODING rain water run off/ sewage waste into the environment
(I'm all for less pavement in the world, but I don't think that government environmental agencies are about to let anything in this highly scrutinized development sneak by. On what evidence do they think that sewage is going into Gravois Creek or being treated differently then sewage anywhere else?)

(I'd estimate that about 1/3rd of this is greenspace as it is in the flood plain. In section 4 of the plans, it outlines the possibility of Recreational Uses permitted by leasing the common ground area for parks, picnic areas, trail access and so on, as long as it's approved by County Planning and the Parks Dept.)

POOR DESIGN aggressive uniform linear alignment
Proposed curb cuts at Glenshire and Charrette with interior connecting street

(Now the Mayor has been a student of Urban Planning and I've never even heard of "aggressive uniform linear alignment" so I Googled it. All I found was help with algebra equasions. As for the curb cuts, they are exactly the same width and shape as the two streets mentioned. Do they also suffer from "poor design"?)

Hopefully my point is well taken that had the Angry Villagers a real case here, they would have been sticking to the point from the get-go. If the issue is density, it should have a number attached to it and they should be fighting for that number. All the other issues they had seem to have been mitigated haven't they?


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Attached Villas


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