A plan to use a house on Gravois Road and Vasel Drive in Affton for the location of farmer’s insurance was recommended for denial by the St. Louis County Planning Commission on April 26.
The plan included adding a special renewable business permit to the site, as well as additional driveway parking. Petitioners Gregory and Lois Mans currently operate on the street from the location and purchased the house after it had been vacant for three months.
At a public hearing on March 29, many neighbors and residents of the house’s subdivision spoke out against the change, citing sight lines, parking and other businesses likely to move in.
County staff recommended the plan be approved by the commission in April, adding several conditions such as removing an on-site walkway, limiting parking to four spaces, installing decorative fencing, reducing pavement additions and planting improvements.
Acting Director of Planning Jacob Trimble said staff found parking and on-street parking would not impact sightlines, as noted by citizens.
“Staff find that an insurance office generates little vehicle traffic and there would be a maximum of three employees,” Trimble said. “Due to the limited nature of how insurance offices operate, staff find that a car here and there on Vasel at any given time is not detrimental to the neighborhood.”
Commissioner Bill Sneed said he did not disagree with the staff’s findings on the site, but that the commercial aspect of the site will “change the character” of the community for the duration of the special commercial permit.
“If it was a housing estate in which I lived, I would be against it. I think it changes the community. It doesn’t consider other houses … simply because it borders Gravois,” Sneed said.
Sneed said the parking lot would specifically set it apart from the rest of the neighborhood.
The commission voted 5 to 1 to recommend the denial to the county council. Commissioner Gary Elliott was the only no to vote.