Cape council approves first reading of Old Sprigg rezoning ordinance

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

More than 200 people don't want nine mostly wooded acres along Old Sprigg Street Road and Bertling Street to become an apartment complex for university students. They signed a petition that said so. But city officials ultimately sided with potential developers and city staff recommendations to rezone the area.

Discussions during a lengthy public hearing before the city council Monday on the potential rezoning of the property from R-1, which is single-family residential, to R-4, which is medium-density multifamily residential, brought out several residents to speak in opposition of a multiunit apartment complex being built next to their homes.

The city council was required to have a two-thirds majority vote to approve the first reading of the ordinance that would rezone the area since one petition signed by 30 percent of residents who own property within 185 feet of the tracts was certified by the city's planning and zoning office. The council voted 6-1 to approve the first reading. Councilman John Voss, whose ward contains the property, voted no.

The nine acres are owned by separate parties interested in selling to a developer, Brandon Williams, who may invest around $14 million into building a multiunit complex with a clubhouse, pool and resident parking.

Williams told the council Monday he was willing to work with residents to make sure their properties were protected from noise or other potential disturbances from the development. The owner of the largest part of the tracts, Edward Leoni, said he would try to make sure a large buffer zone would be placed between single-family homes in nearby neighborhoods and the complex by potentially including that requirement in a sale contract for the land.

Residents are concerned about the potential for noise and an increase in traffic, crime and other disturbances in a neighborhood they say is now a quiet and calm area.

Keith Lear, a resident of Old Sprigg Street road whose property borders the area that could be rezoned, said the financial risks in the real estate market taken by the current owners of the property shouldn't be affecting other residents. He may sell his home and move if the plans for the complex keep moving forward.

"Everyone who lives there made a commitment to their neighborhood, and a commitment to the city," he said. "I shouldn't have to move so someone else can benefit."

Leoni said residents of the city should expect to have to deal with the potential uses of property to change and that what he and others are proposing are reasonable, especially with a population of university students that continues to increase and drive a need for more rental housing.

The council will give final consideration to the ordinance at its Oct. 15 meeting.

Alcohol ordinance

That meeting could also hold further discussion and a possible proposal of an ordinance that would prohibit anyone younger than 21 from entering or staying in an establishment that primarily serves alcohol after 10 p.m.

Southeast Missouri State University officials, including president Dr. Ken Dobbins, and spokespeople from SoutheastHEALTH and Saint Francis Medical Center, addressed the council during its study session Monday on the use of alcohol by minors, which they say is a continuing concern for the university community and the city.

Southeast Hospital emergency room director Linda Brown said the hospital is seeing minors who have alcohol-related injuries come in on a regular basis and sometimes see cases of significant alcohol poisoning. Rob Grayhek, director of trauma and disaster services at Saint Francis, asked that the city create ordinances that promote safety.

Numbers from the university show there has been a slight increase in alcohol violations on campus recently when compared to previous years, but that increase, according to Dobbins, is not as much of a concern as are the high blood-alcohol levels seen in some minors who ended up in the hospital after binge drinking.

eragan@semissourian.com

388-3627

Pertinent address:

401 Independence St., Cape Girardeau, MO

1733 Old Sprigg Street Road, Cape Girardeau, MO

1739 Old Sprigg Street Road, Cape Girardeau, MO

Bertling Drive, Cape Girardeau, MO

Mahy Drive, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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