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City Panel OKs Expansion of Dining at Shoppes of Westgate

City council would have to approve the planning and zoning commission's recommendation for a city code amendment allowing more than 25 percent of retail space to be used for eating and drinking establishments.

The Planning and Zoning Commission this week endorsed a move to eliminate part of city code which limits the amount of space that can be used for eating and drinking establishments in areas zoned "MX" in the city.

The move came at the request of the Shoppes at Westgate, the only retail area in the city under the "MX" label. Property owners are trying to fill a vacancy in the plaza and have attracted interest from concerns which would place the percentage of space devoted to food and drinking establishments over the 25 percent limit.

Monday's discussion revealed nothing more than previously reported regarding specifics on what might ultimately fill the vacant space in the building. A separate hearing will be held next month on a move to allow retail bakeries on less than 4 acres of property in "MX" use areas.

"It probably made sense when it was proposed," attorney said on behalf of Westgate Monday during a public hearing. "But it is a burden now."

City staff endorsed the switch, as City Planner Whitney Kelly said there had once been a concern with parking needs overwhelming the site, but she and Community Development Director Paul Langdon said they felt existing policies and requirements already in place for future development were strong enough to let the 25 percent limit go by the wayside.

Stephen Kling, an attorney representing the Questover residential subdivisions nearby, argued against the decision and said a text amendment wasn't the proper mechanism for a move and that removing that restriction could one day encourage an area zoned General Commercial which also still has the 25 percent cap, to make a similar request.

The Commission approved the text amendment by a vote of 5-1. Michael Barton voted no, Gary Eberhardt recused himself from the discussion and vote because his law firm does business with Westgate. Ken Howard was absent.

Creve Coeur City Council will review the decision May 29.

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