FRONTENAC — The City of Frontenac faced an issue about allowing re-zoning of a commercial property that could possibly affect some of its residents.
Previously the city’s planning and zoning commission approved the re-zoning at its meeting 5-2 in favor of it, and then voted 5-2 in favor of a special use permit.
However, the next step to pass the re-zoning is ultimately decided by the Frontenac City Council, which saw more than a dozen of its residents show up at the Monday meeting.
Bob Kunshek, chairman for planning and zoning commission, opened the discussion by stating that the commission approved the re-zoning of two lots — which belong to the Monsour family — for Countryside Self Storage.
“Countryside has requested to change the zoning on both lots ... and requested a special use permit to allow building additional storage units on the lots,” Kunshek said. “Our current zoning does not allow for commercial storage in any area without a special use permit. The public hearing was attended by two residents on Kennedy Street, the third property owner had sent a letter via email opposing the re-zoning. After hearing from both sides, the zoning board voted 5-2 in favor allowing the zoning, and then voted 5-2 in favor of the special use permit.”
Curt Frazier, co-owner of Countryside Self Storage, presented to the council about the plans and layouts of the re-zoned lots.
“The building we’re proposing right now is a 50 X 240-foot building that would be a three-sided structure where your typical user or tenant would be like a boat or an RV,” Frazier said. “We’re looking at 20 spaces in there.
“We intend to take this from a low-class self-storage facility that’s operating maybe 70 percent occupancy to one that is very well maintained and we’re looking at investing $400,000 roughly in it,” Frazier said. “... We’re looking to invest in the community. It’s going to increase the real estate taxes, which I think is a plus from the community standpoint.”
Matt Guthrie, Frontenac resident, after penning a column in The Morning Sun against the plans for re-zoning — which included a “six-foot fence topped with barbed razor wire, a new storage for boats and campers on land currently zoned residential and new lighting — spoke on behalf of a few of his neighbors whose properties could be affected by the re-zoning.
“I bought (my) house in December this year, so I’m relatively new to the community,” Guthrie said. “When we bought it, we looked and saw it was a sleepy, historic storage facility. Granted it’s a little rundown, but there’s not a lot of traffic. At night, it’s really quiet, no bright lights, none of those things. We bought it with the knowledge that the property that Mr. Frazier was talking about to the east was zoned residential.”
Guthrie brought a petition all signed by his neighbors on Kennedy Street against the re-zoning for worries of devaluation of their respective properties, and the worry of how unpleasant a view new lighting, possible more traffic and barbed chain link fence can bring.
“The only thing I can really say is just imagine it across the street from your house,” Guthrie said. “I bought it knowing what it was, not what it was going to be and having those protections already in place to protect my house and my property values instead of quite frankly a chain link fence with barbed wire. It’s kind of something that is very concerning to all of our neighbors and we request that you deny the zoning, especially on the east side.”
New councilman Ethan Spurling asked Frazier if he had consulted with surrounding property owners about the design plans to which Frazier replied in the negative.
“I did not and the reason that we did not is because the main facility right now is illegally permissible use, so my understanding we can fence the main facility right now, but as far as the request to re-zone the east or the west, no,” Frazier said. “Frankly, maybe I should have.”
The council ultimately tabled the decision until the evening council meeting on May 4 to allow time for Countryside Self Storage and the residents concerned to possibly come up with a compromise.
In other business, the council also had four of its members — Mayor Jim Kennedy and John Macary, and newcomers Trey Coleman and Spurling — pledge an oath to office after the results of the general municipal election. Coleman ran unopposed in the second ward, and Spurling beat out Debbie Bridwell in the fourth ward. Macary ran unopposed and Kennedy was re-elected after edging out Jan Falletti.
City Administrator Doug Sellars also brought forth a request from Stacie Wilson, the athletics director and coach at Covenant Academy to use the City of Frontenac for a 5K Legacy Run/1 Mile Fun Run on Saturday, May 23.
“The race is a fundraiser for our school,” Wilson wrote in a letter to the council. “Covenant Academy has been in operation for more than 20 years. We are a non-profit school, we are solely supported by the local church Covenant Harvest and volunteer teachers like myself.”
She requested the use of the restrooms at the Sports Complex on East McKay — where the race begins and ends — and that the street be blocked off roughly from 8:45 a.m. to noon.
The next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, May 4.