Some neighbors to the north of Maplewood Richmond Heights High School are concerned that the school district is gobbling up their neighborhood, “like an octopus,” as one resident said during a Maplewood Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on Monday night.
The district plans to raze multiple homes to make room for a parking lot while replacing the school's current parking lot with a courtyard and other renovations. The district owns nine lots north of the high school that have already been rezoned by the city. The commission met Monday to discuss the rezoning of two more district-owned lots at 2544 and 2548 Gerhard Avenue. Motions to rezone both lots passed unanimously, though commission member Tom Bakersmith cast his vote “with a heavy heart,” he said.
Commission member Pickett Lema said both her and her kids attended MRH and it was time to improve the north side of the high school.
“It’s been decades that they have struggled, and its not just the question of the parking," she said. "The whole back of the high school does not accommodate the kind of activity for the kids that they need.”
She said the school had parking issues during the premiere of the Joe's Place documentary on Saturday.
Resident Myles McCabe said the district should make parking arrangements at the Maplewood Family Aquatic Center or along Big Bend Boulevard. He didn't want to see two more houses demolished for parking.
Resident David Hunn asked City Manager Marty Corcoran to assure the house demolitions would stop with the two properties on Gerhard Avenue. Corcoran said he couldn’t speak for MRH, but he didn't expect any more rezoning.
Sunnen Products Company
The commission also voted to rezone 9.62 acres of land southeast of Hanley and Manchester roads that are owned by Sunnen Products Company into a planned unit development district, making way for a Mini Cooper dealership. The land is currently zoned for houses, apartment buildings and some commercial development.
The dealership, which shares ownership with BMW Autohaus across Hanley Road in Maplewood, would move from Clayton.
Bakersmith asked about a property that would be razed that is on the National Register of Historic Places. Corcoran said the property would be reviewed, as is every property before it is torn down.
Both rezoning efforts require Maplewood City Council approval. The city will hold two public hearings: one at the April 12 council meeting and another at the May 10 meeting. City council could vote to rezone the properties during the May meeting.