In a somewhat surprising turn of events, Centene Corporation’s plan to get architectural approval for an early childhood education and employee training facility was stalled by the City of Clayton Planning Commission Monday night.
Centene presented its site plan review for the property located at 7510 Maryland Avenue to the commission, which voted unanimously to table the issue, citing that the nation’s largest managed care company has failed to meet a requirement in its conditional use permit.
Alderwoman Joanne Boulton, speaking on behalf of the entire Board of Aldermen, stated that Centene’s plan does not contain enough green space, a stipulation made by the board when it granted Centene a conditional use permit back on Sept. 12.
“I’ve reviewed this Maryland School location plan for this matter and I do not believe that the site plan presented by Centene meets conditional use requirement No. 18, which states that the overall site shall contain no more than 55 percent impervious coverage,” Boulton said. “It appears that this particular condition in the CUP is of great importance, because at least two of the (yes) votes would have been nay votes had condition No. 18 not been added. In fact this CUP would not have been granted.”
The City Planning Commission tabled the issue until the Nov. 20 meeting in an effort to give Centene and its architects time to conform with the condition.
The City Planning Commission reviewed the design and materials associated with the proposed construction of the 21,921 square foot addition and voted to table that issue based on the fact the architects did not provide a 3-D visual of the proposed building, which the commission requested.
The commission also had some concerns about the renderings Centene proposed to the historic schoolhouse designed by William B. Ittner in the 1930s.
“I don’t think it fits in with the character of the neighborhood,” Chairman Steve Lichtenfield said. “I’m really not in favor of it.”
The acquisition of what had been a vacant lot previously used by the Clayton School District by Centene has been a sore point among nearby homeowners for several months.
Following the Aug. 28 decision by the City Planning Commission to recommend the Board approve Centene’s conditional use permit subject to a number of conditions, one of which was that Centene “Provide green space for public use during non-business hours”, the board met to consider the recommendation.
At the Sept. 12 Board of Aldermen meeting, the mayor responded to the City Planning Commission’s recommendation and said that the city does not have authority to require Centene to grant public access to private property.
The conditional use permit has since been appealed by a group of concerned citizens, who allege the board approved an illegal zoning decision to allow Centene to operate as a “college or university” on a property that is located in a residential district and sandwiched between two residential streets, which would infringe upon a city ordinance.
The group, represented by about 25 residences, will present their appeal at the next Board of Aldermen meeting on Nov. 14.