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The Lake News Online
  • ‘Green’ community plans put against the ropes

  • A developer granted two extensions for a planned unit development (PUD) in Shawnee Bend 3 Subdivision has now been given one month to file a revised area development plan with the Camden County Board of Adjustments or face the likely termination of the PUD through the approval of an appeal by the Shawnee Bend 3 Homeowners Association of the most recent extension.
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  • A developer granted two extensions for a planned unit development (PUD) in Shawnee Bend 3 Subdivision has now been given one month to file a revised area development plan with the Camden County Board of Adjustments or face the likely termination of the PUD through the approval of an appeal by the Shawnee Bend 3 Homeowners Association of the most recent extension.
    Gary Storm, a retired college professor with a background in environmental education, is seeking to develop 72 acres as a planned "green" community featuring connected residences and stand alone residences with a commercial area and a farmers market with possible live music and a community garden where people could rent space. The rough plan at this time includes 22 acres for commercial development and a four acre park area where the farmers market and community garden would be located.
    The estimated build-out cost for the phased project is $48-50 million though there has been no detailed plan on what those phases would be.
    A second one-year extension of the PUD was granted by the Camden County Planning Commission in April 2013 after Storm failed to meet all of the conditions required in the approval of the first extension in April 2012.
    The time limit for a final plat to be filed for a PUD is two years, and even now, a plat for the first phase has yet to be filed.
    A plat of the first phase of the PUD was the condition of the first extension that was not met. The second extension was granted with the requirement to get a final plat for the whole project filed by March 2014 when the extension would run out.
    As the appellate board of the planning commission in this type of case, the BOA has the ability to act as the planning commission when an appeal is made. With the complications of the case, the BOA seems to be taking on that role to try to expedite the project either to the recordation of the final plat or to its termination.
    "I'm all for green, but your neighbors have made large investment. We need to know what you're planning and if you have the financial resources to complete it. We need to see that phase one can be accomplished ... that this is a viable plan," said BOA chair Chris Caesar.
    After hearing from Storm and homeowners in the area at its Sept. 25 meeting, the BOA is reviewing the case to determine the feasibility of the project that has failed to get off the ground after more than three and a half years.
    By the Oct. 23 BOA meeting, the BOA is requiring Storm to have a new development plan for Woodland Community reworked to abide by the subdivision covenant restrictions that were in place at the time the PUD was originally approved in early 2010. The plan needed to include the number of structures, their size and location.
    Page 2 of 3 - He must provide the revised plan to the homeowners association for comment and to try to work out an acceptable plan with them.
    The main restriction precludes multi-family residential and commercial uses within 1,000 feet of the lake.
    Some of the confusion of the case may stem from different definitions of multi-family residences.
    Previous area plans have placed what Storm called "attached single family" residences within 1,000 feet of the shoreline. He defined these row houses or town homes as single-family because each side would be owned as fee simple entities while the county defines them as multi-family because one structure houses more than one family regardless of ownership.
    The purpose of these types of structures within the development, Storm said, was to boost density without sacrificing green space to more roads and driveways. This type of residential structure is also more energy efficient than two separate houses due to the shared wall.
    In addition to the revised development plan, board chair Chris Caesar asked Storm to bring renderings of what the proposed duplex and four-plex structures will look like as well as a budget for the project with the proposed sale price of the residences.
    According to Storm, the main reason for the delays lies in the bust of the real estate market just as he was starting the project.
    "While I have spent more than $150,000 of my own money to improve the property since the PUD was approved and made well documented efforts to raise capital locally, nationally and internationally during this period, bankds and investors are not yet willing to risk money in real estate development of this sort. They will be, however, over time - especially for green development of the kind being proposed," Storm wrote in a prepared statement.
    A lawsuit filed by the homeowners association against Storm and the county over the commercial zoning in the development has further burdened the project.
    Though the court found in favor of Storm and the county, Hathaway advised the board that the county commission would likely not support a plan that would land the county in another conjoined lawsuit over this case. A general policy of Camden County P&Z is also to abide by subdivision covenant restrictions though it is not responsible for enforcing them.
    The PUD was approved under different P&Z administration.
    While the property could potentially be removed from the subdivision through litigation, and thus not hampered by its rules, the property is located in the middle of the subdivision and is bordered by some of its main feeder roads, which would make opposition to such a move by the association likely.
    The BOA is also requiring the Woodland Community, Inc. corporation to be reactivated in Missouri by the next meeting. Storm had dissolved the Illinois-based corporation in both states. He has recently had it reinstated in Illinois and had filed for the same in Missouri.
    Page 3 of 3 - Storm must also identify a small parcel that is part of the development that was left out of the original legal notifications for the PUD. According to Hathaway, representations from the original application show that the parcel was intended to be included but that the legal notices mistakenly left it out.
    The case is further complicated because of confusion about the underlying zoning of the PUD.
    Parts of the acreage were rezoned in 2010 for the development area to include R-1 low density residential, B-2 general commercial and P-2 commercial park.
    According to Storm, he was told by the former P&Z administrator that those zonings with the PUD overlay were sufficient for the project.
    According to Hathaway, the Unified Land Use Code clearly states that the underlying zoning of a project must support the type of development that will be on the property.
    Several homeowners in Shawnee Bend attended the BOA in support of the association's appeal.
    While the covenant restrictions are the main base for opposing the PUD, the problems go deeper than that, said Bill Benecke. Storm has shown a consistent pattern of ignoring restrictions and other details, he said, and allowing that pattern to continue could result in a derelict partially constructed development that could become a fire safety hazard and put area property values at risk.
    He cited several other alleged issues with the development, including trash on the property and a gazebo built on Ameren Missouri property.
    With no final plat in place, no construction permits have been issued, but Storm has had paths cleared to be able to show the property and has had some trees removed.
    Storm said he would try to have everything to the board by the next meeting.
    Board member Jim Halloran told Storm, "You have to do more than try. You have to do more than you've done before."
    If the appeal is granted and the PUD terminated, the zonings would back to what they were prior to the case.
    Storm could apply for a PUD again if the plan becomes firmer or gets financial backing, but any plan with connected residences would likely be denied. Since the PUD was established in 2010, the homeowners association has put into place more restrictions that do not allow for any commercial or multi-family development within the subdivision.

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