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St. Robert resident asks for rezoning to allow horses and agriculture in city limits

SAINT ROBERT, Mo. (Aug. 3, 2022) -- A rezoning reversion request from residential to agricultural use attracted concerns at Wednesday's St. Robert Planning and Zoning Commission and objections from numerous neighbors near the Zeigenbein Road property, but after extensive discussion, zoning commissioners agreed to recommend that the city council vote next week Tuesday to rezone the property provided that the owner agrees to restrictive covenants that would bar potentially problematic farm animals or other agricultural uses.

Speaking at Wednesday's planning and zoning meeting, property owner Kevin Johnson explained his request for a zoning reversion of property he owns from R1 residential to A1 agricultural. He said he bought the property in March and doesn't plan to have a commercial farming operation, but his grandchildren would like to have a horse.

"I don't intend to put a poultry barn in, I don't intend to put pigs in," Johnson said.

Zoning Commissioner Art Curenton wasn't convinced.

"I was reading this letter from people who were in opposition to your rezoning... one of the things that they brought to mind was the smells if the wind is right," Curenton said. "If you are going to start out small, is there anything which will prevent you, if you change your mind, from growing."

"Yes, the terrain," Johnson replied. "I've got probably 15 acres toward the front but the rest of it, with the terrain, you wouldn't be able to do anything."

Johnson's complete property parcel is about 50 acres, only 15 of which is buildable, he said. According to Planning and Zoning Administrator Jerome Gordon, the property behind Johnson's property is also zoned A1 and is also inside the city, owned by local developer Carol Carson.

Zoning Commissioner Chris Gilleen asked if restrictions can be placed on the zoning change to prevent heirs or future property owners from putting in pigs or other unacceptable uses. City Attorney Tyce Smith that's possible.

"It's a fairly simple process but one I've only seen used a couple of times," Smith said, to have a landowner, as a condition of a zoning change, implement an irrevocable restrictive covenant to prevent certain types of uses.

Johnson said he "would have no problem" with a restrictive covenant preventing him from putting in "a large commercial farm operation."

Neighbor Melody Hernandez, who said she has lived in her home on Zeigenbein Road since 2018 said neighbors oppose the plans. Traffic in the area has already increased, she said, with dangerous crashes on the road in front of her home.

"We feel it is unsafe for our neighbors to play in our front yard, and the only place they can safely play is in their back yard," Hernandez said. "What if they (farm animals) break out somehow from their fence and get in our yard?"

Hernandez said even if farm animals never get out, farms create smells and farm animals attract other animals.

"What happens when he is ready to sell the property?" she asked. "If our home values go down, we bought our property in the city limits for that reason... it is an up-and-coming neighborhood and I do feel with that being zoned agricultural, it would bring our home values down. There are a lot of 'what ifs' we feel need to be addressed with this situation."

Hernandez also asked about hunting use on agricultural land and what would happen "if, God forbid, one of those stray bullets would hit one of our kids."

After hearing Hernandez's concerned, Planning and Zoning Commission members unanimously recommended the city council approve the rezoning request pending completion of a restrictive covenant to be prepared by the city attorney that would address those concerns.

In other business, commission members also approved recommending that council allowing the son of local developer Pete Cruz, who is on active duty in the military and owns property in St. Robert, to have an AirBNB property on Chicago Drive. That recommendation will also go to next week's city council meeting for consideration and final approval.

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