Mayor: Smoother Site Plan Process Needed

Brentwood Mayor Chris Thornton speaks to members of the Brentwood Chamber of Commerce on Jan. 28 at the Brentwood School District Conference Center.
Brentwood Mayor Chris Thornton speaks to members of the Brentwood Chamber of Commerce on Jan. 28 at the Brentwood School District Conference Center.

He also says Manchester Road flooding being examined

 
By Steve Bowman
Editor, The Brentwood Spirit
Email: bowmansj@sbcglobal.net

Brentwood businesses are booming and have allowed the city to improve its facilities, roads and parks, Mayor Chris Thornton told members of the Brentwood Chamber of Commerce on Thursday. But he added that the process for developing a site plan here needs to be improved.

Thornton was the keynote speaker at the chamber’s monthly membership luncheon at the Brentwood School District Conference Center. About 75 people attended.

He also revealed that he is seeking expert advice on how the city should prevent flooding on Manchester Road.

About 75 people attend the Brentwood Chamber of Commerce's monthly membership luncheon at the Brentwood School District Conference Center.
About 75 people attend the Brentwood Chamber of Commerce’s monthly membership luncheon at the Brentwood School District Conference Center.

Clarifying site plan development

Thornton said he wants to make it easier for prospective business owners to understand how to develop site plans here. He said there should be well documented steps for such processes as permitting and scheduling inspections.

“We don’t really have a clear process that we can say this is how you can get a site plan developed,” he said. “The process could be smoother. I’d like to be able to track exactly how long it takes people to go through the process, from the time they make an application to opening the doors.”

He said the city is “a little bit behind the curve on using technology” to streamline site plan development.

Vacancies quickly filled

Thornton told the group that “Businesses here are doing well” and vacancies are quickly filled. As examples he pointed out that Golf Galaxy was soon replaced by Total Wine and More, “which is setting [sales] records nationwide,” and the site for Macaroni Grill was rapidly taken by Chick-fil-A, which “is doing gangbusters.” He added that Hanley Industrial Park now has no vacancies.

He believes one successful business attracts others.

“People may come to Brentwood to go to Whole Foods but they stop at a couple other stores while they’re here in town,” he said. “It’s one of those things where the rising tide lifts all boats.”

Brentwood's Chick fil-A held its ribbon cutting last March.
Brentwood’s Chick fil-A held its ribbon cutting last March.

Businesses help fund city improvements

Thornton told the group that sales tax income from Brentwood businesses makes the city “financially sound.” He said it has allowed Brentwood to renovate the city’s recreation center and ice rink, work toward a goal of repaving every street by 2019 and proceed with plans to connect the city’s trail system to the Great River Greenways through Norm West Park.

He described the Litzsinger Road renovation between Brentwood and McKnight.

“Now we’re going to have a very nice 6-inch curb there, a beautiful sidewalk and some green space in between,” he said. “It will provide a safe, lighted transportation route for bikes and pedestrians between Tilles Park and the trail system on the other side of the city.”

He said he would like to see Brentwood Boulevard look more like what Litzsinger Road is becoming, as an inviting roadway to drivers passing through.

Improvements to Litzsinger Road from Brentwood Boulevard to McKnight Road include lamp posts, a new sidewalk and curb and a grass strip.
Improvements to Litzsinger Road from Brentwood Boulevard to McKnight Road include lamp posts, a new sidewalk and curb and a grass strip.

Manchester Road flooding

After the speech a chamber member asked Thornton what’s being done about repeated flooding on Manchester Road.

“One of the problems with the flooding is that there are so many conflicting sources of information and so many conflicting analyses,” the mayor replied. “I need to get somebody to help me sort through all that. I’ve put together a couple of people with considerable experience in that area. One is a civil engineer. … I’m putting them together and asking them to look into it from a very practical standpoint — don’t beat around the bush, tell me what we need to do to fix it. I very much expect that if we find the source of the problem it won’t be in Brentwood; it’ll be downstream – Maplewood, Shrewsbury or maybe even the city of St. Louis. But the first thing is to find out exactly what the problem is.”

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