Repeatedly describing a tower design for a proposed outlet mall as "a lighthouse," Chesterfield's planning commissioners voted unanimously Monday to limit Premium Outlets height to 45 feet, instead of 65 feet tall.
The towers were intended to display names of stores and brands.
Monday's vote serves as a recommendation to Chesterfield's City Council planning committee for the re-design, according to city officials.
Premium Outlets is one of two outlet malls that is proposed for Chesterfield Valley, with its location nearly at the base of the bridge crossing the Missouri River, with Chesterfield Blue Valley LLC managing 190 acres at the site along Interstate 64/Highway 40.
The other outlet mall developer, Taubman or T-O Ventures, started grading its lot April 3, at the Boone's Crossing exit off I-64.
Both outlet malls would have about the same square footage of shopping, in the 400,000 square foot range, according to proposals.
Prior to Monday's vote, the city's Site Plan Committee voted 5-0 to okay Premium Outlets—which then sent it along to the full Planning Commission later Monday.
Officials said the majority of the eight-building Premium Outlets would be about two stories high, or 24 feet.
Then five or six towers were shown to be various heights: 34 feet tall, 38 feet, 45 feet, several at 50 feet, and one at 65 feet, according to discussion among the Planning Commission during Monday's meeting.
Planning Commissioner Michael Watson insisted a square tower with a roof over it and a section of frosted glass lighted internally, would look like a lighthouse—and indicated that was negative.
"When you get the fog rolling in down there, the whole valley will be lit up," Watson said from the dais.
Then, just before the vote on whether to approve the site plan, Commissioner Bruce DeGroot said he could not support the tower design. He wanted nothing taller than 45 feet—not 65 feet.
While three fellow commissioners voted against cutting the height in an amended motion—Laura Lueking, Stanley Proctor and Robert Puyear—the entire 9-member commission swiftly then voted in favor of cutting the height to 45 feet.
The other outlet mall in the Valley has no structure taller than 45 feet, according to proposals.
Planning officials said the Premium Outlet's plan would now move along to the City Council's planning committee, and re-emerge for consideration and/or a vote at some point.
Dean Wolf, manager of Chesterfield Blue Valley LLC, where the Premium Outlet is to be built, said he was hopeful construction could start this Spring.
A city official said it was months away.
Simon-Woodmont CEO Stephen Coslik (Premium Outlets) was somewhat philosophical in his limited comments after the vote to reduce tower height and likely delay the process.
"Democracy at work," Coslik said. He indicated developers simply would be factoring in this latest move.
Searing public comment
A man who said he was from St. Charles County, Michael Garvey, lambasted the city for allowing any building in what he called the flood plain of the Missouri River. He quoted the Golden Rule, cited Jesus, said city greed led to development, and said seeing Chesterfield Valley flooded in 1993 was beautiful.
City Attorney Robert Heggie said Garvey's characterization of the city was incorrect.
Chesterfield Valley has a new levee with a recreational trail atop, since the 1993 flooding.
Survey and petitions
Chesterfield residents said they were polled by phone in March, about the prospect of two outlet malls in Chesterfield. Neither outlet mall team took credit for the survey.
Then, on Election Day April 3, a firm named Fieldworks stationed people at each polling site, gathering signatures against providing any kind of tax break—a Community Improvement District—to Premium Outlets. Developers had asked to initate the process of applying for the special district at a city public meeting earlier this year.