CREVE COEUR, Mo. – Creve Coeur just won a landmark Missouri Supreme Court case that may soon change the appearance of businesses on Olive Boulevard.
It involves an old strip mall on Olive near Graeser, where city leaders have put together a comprehensive plan for what they want the stretch to look like. They want it more walkable and intimate with boutiques, restaurants, and coffee shops, but a St. Louis County judge recently tried telling the city—they don’t have a say.
The developer struck a deal for a QuikTrip, even though there are two gas stations within sight. The city council rejected the QT unanimously, saying it was not part of their long-term, comprehensive plan. The developer sued, and in a decision that seemed to shock everyone, a St. Louis County judge ordered Creve Coeur to allow a third gas station at the location.
“What’s the point of even having any type of rules in place for city planning, for zoning?” said Brett Berger, a resident.
Berger lives behind the development and says it wasn’t an issue of “not in my backyard” because the city wants to attract people to the area.
“We would love to have more people come to Creve Coeur for more destinations, whether they’re shopping or eating,” he said.
The developer sued Creve Coeur and won in St. Louis County court when a judge called the city’s denial “unlawful, unreasonable, arbitrary, capricious, and constituted an abuse of discretion.”
“The argument is that economics support another gas station,” Berger said. “But at what point is Creve Coeur allowed to say, ‘Hey, enough is enough.’”
The city fought back, taking the case all the way to Missouri’s Supreme Court and with the Municipal League’s support.
“It was in their right to deny that use in that area,” said Pat Kelly, executive director for the Municipal League of Metro St. Louis.
Kelly said the key is for cities to take the time to create a comprehensive plan.
“There are some cities that don’t. It can be too costly,” he said. “(The comprehensive plan is) the vision for the community that the residents have set forth.” He continued, “To the credit of Creve Coeur and their professional staff and their legal counsel, they did everything the right way and the courts proved that.”
Missouri’s Supreme Court, just this week, put the final stamp on allowing the city to reject the gas station. The developer and his attorney would not leave a comment but directed FOX 2 to their court filing, which questioned whether this opens the door for cities to make discriminatory decisions on other types of permits, like marriage licenses or occupancy permits.