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P&Z vote early as agenda changes

Thursday, June 9, 2005

Cape board moves new subdivision issue to start of meeting; upset neighbors miss out on decision.

It was a small group of neighbors, but one that intended to have its say at a planning and zoning commission meeting Wednesday night about concerns over a 41-lot subdivision in northeast Cape Girardeau.

Instead, the seven people showed up a few minutes late to find that the Timber Creek subdivision vote had been moved from the last item on the agenda to the first, and that the commission had already unanimously passed the 21-acre proposal.

After the meeting, the group expressed frustration.

"Why have a public meeting if people can't be heard?" said Steve Manley, who lives on West Cape Rock Drive near the proposed subdivision. "They clearly moved the agenda around to avoid us when they saw we weren't there."

That's not true, said city planner Kent Bratton, who is the city staff liaison to the commission. He said that the agenda was changed to accommodate the group.

"We anticipated a huge crowd, and we didn't want them to wait through the whole agenda," Bratton said.

Before the opponents arrived, the commission discussed the matter briefly before giving it preliminary approval, which means the advisory board recommends that the Cape Girardeau City Council approve the proposal.

Developer Mitch Kinder, who did not attend the meeting, was asking the commission to approve his plan for a single-family residential subdivision on the south side of Lexington Avenue between Cape Rock Drive and Old Sprigg Street Road.

The opponents, however, say that plans should be changed so that entrance and exit streets aren't Cape Rock Drive and Old Sprigg Street Road but newer and wider Lexington Avenue.

"The best quality street is Lexington," said Richard Renfrow, who lives on North Old Sprigg Street Road and drove from his job in Carbondale, Ill., to be on time for the meeting.

"There are a lot of sight problems on our streets," Renfrow said. "Why pick the older, narrower streets instead of accessing a brand-new thoroughfare?"

But the commission said that there was nothing it could do. The commission was simply upholding the rules of the city, since the development meets all requirements.

"We can make some conditions, but only to make sure that the statutes are met," commission chairman Skip Smallwood said before the vote.

The city planning department had said that the development had met all city ordinances. The planning department said the entrance and exit streets are acceptable.

After the meeting, Smallwood met with the group because he saw that they had come in late.

"We did exactly what we were required to do," Smallwood told the group.

But the main opponent, Basil Harrison, who lives on Oak Lei Drive, said he wasn't surprised by the way the night went.

"Now we just take the fight to the city council," Harrison said. "We hope we get some better results there."

smoyers@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 137


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