Old Jamestown Area Study Completed

By Ken Smith, Past President, Old Jamestown Association, July 1988

It was a year ago this month that County Executive McNary appointed a citizens’ committee to assist in the preparation of a plan that would be used as a guideline for the emerging development of the “New” Jamestown Area. The timetable called for completion of the plan by October 1987.

  • Much has happened between last July and April of this year when the final report was transmitted to the County Council.
  • The committee was expanded to better represent area residents.
  • The project name was changed to “Old” Jamestown as being more appropriate.
  • Old Jamestown Association, established in 1942, was reactivated.
  • The Association presented a forty-page position statement to the County which expressed concerns and provided extensive background information to the committee members describing the unique characteristics of the Karst topography.
  • The County, upon recommendation of the citizens’ committee, eliminated the timetable to allow as much time as required for completion.
  • The committee conducted a series of public meetings at which residents had the opportunity for input.
  • The committee held ad hoc meetings with parties having an interest in development in the area.
  • The Association played a major role in defining issues and informing the County of residents’ concerns.
  • The boundaries of Karst topography in the study area were established by the Department of Natural Resources. 5 square miles of the 7 in the study area were identified as Karst and thereby subject to restrictions they would cause to development.
  • A staff geologist from the Department of Natural Resources visited the area upon request of the Association. His report confirmed the unique characteristics of the area’s Karst topography and the restrictions they would cause to development.
  • The Association hand-delivered and mailed over two thousand informational flyers [Important Meeting Notice, January 11, 1988] announcing the public hearing at which the final draft of the area study would be presented. [A segment from the January notice reads as follows: The Division of Geology and Land Survey has provided a very specific delineation of the Karst watershed to the association. This information will be provided to the County Planning Department and the Study Area committee and should be very useful in the identification of the actual Karst watershed within the study area (2200 acres/3.6 sq. miles). The Department of Natural Resources is interested in identifying the location of springs and resurgence points within the area (springs flow continuously and resurgence points flow only after periods of heavy rainfall). Please notify Ken Smith (phone number removed) if you are aware of either of these features.] 
  • Over 250 residents (not the “more than 100” as reported in the Journal) attended the March 2nd public hearing. It was the largest crowd ever to attend an area study public hearing. The statement made on behalf of the Association expressed both support and concern for the plan. The concerns focused on the density of development in the Karst area, the commercialization of the Lindbergh corridor, and residential density along Lindbergh. Those concerns were incorporated into the working of the final plan.
  • The plan was adopted by the Planning Commission on April 14, 1988 and transmitted to the County Council where it was filed for record. The Council, for legal reasons, does not officially adopt such documents as they could be used as evidence in litigation brought against the County.

The seventy-eight page document is very specific but at the same time very general. Detractors will say that the plan makes no difference and that the politics of the County will ultimately determine what happens. That may turn out to be the case in some instances, but if it does, it means that someone in the governmental system will have disregarded the plan and must be held accountable. This plan is significantly different than one that would have been approved last October without the active involvement of the Association or the assertive posture taken by a nucleus group of the citizens’ committee. The persistence of that committee resulted in lower density recommendations in virtually every sub area as well as commercial restrictions on major portions of the Lindbergh corridor.

The effect of the study has already been observed in the guidelines established for recent projects. They are the Mobil Oil proposal, Mazander (Glen Eagle), Kemp (Portland Lake Estates) Wallace/Rees (Jamestown Forest) and Waldbart Nursery.

Support of area residents by membership in the Association and attendance at the public hearings has been extremely important in demonstrating to the County administration that residents in the unincorporated areas do have an interest in what happens in their community. Old Jamestown Association is one of the few effective residents’ associations in unincorporated St. Louis County.