August 2018 Message from the Mayor

August 2018 Edition

Development in Chesterfield
What is our residents’ perception of development in Chesterfield? As I have listened to our residents and read their e-mail comments regarding various development projects as they have progressed through the planning and zoning process, I have developed a sense that many residents believe that our city is actively pursuing development as fast as we can,
and at the highest density possible. Often we hear that the City is only interested in the tax receipts.  Actually, I believe this is a significant misperception. 

We are fortunate in that Chesterfield possesses many attributes that make the community desirable for investment, whether it be residential or commercial. So when a development comes forward, the city has a legal obligation to process the petition in accordance with our comprehensive plan and unified development code. We cannot refuse to consider a land owner’s petition to use their land, but must afford them their legal due process.  However, (with limited exception) we have not purposely sought additional development. 

One fact that surely contributes to this misperception is that many parcels (particularly those owned by Sachs Properties) were zoned by St. Louis County before Chesterfield existed as a City.  Actually, the types and locations of zoning that were being approved by St. Louis County was a major factor leading to the incorporation of Chesterfield, such that residents would have a stronger voice in local zoning decisions. Therefore, many of the developments that have been completed recently, or those that are now in progress were approved many years ago by St. Louis County and the city had no control when they were approved.

Another comment that I hear frequently, is that we are giving up all of the open space. Let me explain that each proposed development that comes in must comply with a set of standards which includes an open space requirement, floor area ratio, tree canopy preservation, structure setbacks, number of parking spaces, etc. In addition to this, the City has acquired and maintains more than five hundred acres of City parks and trails. For a city our size, I think this is a respectable, if not impressive amount of parkland.  Those parks are in addition to Faust Park and the Beckemeir Conservation area owned by the County and State respectively.

Suffice it to say that I believe the best long term development policy for our city  is to accommodate quality development at its natural pace, as opposed to trying to accelerate the pace. I also think this attitude is shared by the majority of our council members.

The last thing I will offer on this subject is that the City has engaged with a consultant to assist with reviewing and updating our comprehensive plan. A very critical component to this highly visible guiding document is the resident input to its development.  The Comprehensive Plan serves as the guiding document to express the community’s expectations for development.  We will be seeking participation from as many residents as possible. The word “transparency” is often used and talked about much as it relates to government at all levels. We have made significant strides and accomplished many tasks that collectively have increased transparency in our Chesterfield municipal government. Among these changes over the past 5 years are:

- Release of documents and meeting minutes relating to the controversial and objectionable lease/ purchase option of vacant lot at corner of Baxter and Old Chesterfield Road
- Compilation of City Council executive session minutes since the City’s inception
- Major improvements in responsiveness to sunshine requests
- Creation of transparency portal on city web site that includes annual budget reports, excess checks reports, financial updates, monthly departmental reports, salaries of employee positions, employee benefits, policy manuals
- Simplified crime report information

The City has expanded its communication channels far exceeding the statutory requirements for public notices to encourage residents to participate in their governmental representation.  We also have an email subscriber list that allows users to register for activities and events in specific interest areas. We have also strived to communicate and provide information that might be helpful to our residents and businesses. The Resident Portal and Active Project Database on the City’s website provides individuals with a wealth of important information from their desktop.  The City has also implemented annual “trustee symposiums” to assist neighborhoods in getting the most out of their relationship with City Hall. We occasionally receive comments from the public (and even elected officials) that suggest we need to increase transparency, so I hope this shines some light on the subject!


Mayor Bob Nation