Opponents of a proposed subdivision to be built on wooded bluffs overlooking the Katy Trail and Missouri River will ask the public to show its preference with a “Special Election” on the morning of Sunday, October 21. The election, to be held at trail heads along the Katy Trail, will allow county residents, activists and cyclists to make their voices heard in response to a controversial decision made this summer.
In late June, members of the St. Charles County Council voted to approve a zoning change that would allow a housing development to be built along and above the Katy Trail. At the time, the decision seemed to represent the final chapter in a months’-long process that included half a dozen changes to the development proposal brought forward by NT Homebuilders.
Then, in July, former Weldon Spring councilman Mark Kaiser sued the County Council for not following its own process, which, he argues, should have sent the proposal back to the county’s Planning and Zoning Commission, a body that voted down the original proposal 8-1.
“This special election is an effort to engage the public on what they want to see done with this scenic site,” said the Missouri Sierra Club’s John Hickey. “To date, neither the University of Missouri System nor the St. Charles County Council have bothered to ask citizens what they would like to see done with this publicly owned land.”
On the morning of October 21, volunteers from the Katy Land Trust, the Missouri Sierra Club, Trailnet and a newly formed organization, Weldon Woods, will set up polling places at trail heads along the Katy Trail, asking State Park patrons: “Should St. Charles County allow a 250+ home subdivision to be built on the bluffs above the Katy Trail?”
At 10:30 a.m., the ballots will be biked to the town of Defiance, Missouri, near the site of the proposed development at the intersection of Defiance Road and Highway 94. In addition to counting ballots, community leaders will share their thoughts on what they would like to see done with land currently owned by the University of Missouri System along the Katy Trail.
The results of the election will eventually be shared with those who still have the power to put the brakes on this decision: members of the St. Charles County Council, County Executive Steve Ehlmann, University of Missouri System President Mun Choi and NT Homebuilders president Greg Whittaker.
“Earlier this year in seven public hearings, not one St. Charles County resident said they wanted this development. This is another opportunity to deliver that message,” said the Katy Land Trust’s Dan Burkhardt.