The Webster Groves City Council unanimously passed the moratorium on all educational properties more than five acres in size at the Oct. 1 meeting. This resolution will block any new conditional use permits (CUP) from being brought to the Council for approval.
While new CUPs cannot be submitted, already submitted CUPs are able to move forward with construction. For Webster University this means the parking garage extension, substation and interdisciplinary science building can all continue development.
The moratorium is set to be in place until March 19, 2014 but can be shortened or extended at any time by the Council.
While the moratorium is in place, the Council and planning and development to look into how the city handles zoning for educational institutions.
“We are looking at proposing to make some changes to zoning ordinance and in particular the major educational campus zoning,” said Webster Groves Director of Planning and Development Mara Perry. “As well as just looking at educational campuses and educational uses in general.”
Perry said it is important to put into place a moratorium when large changes are being made and planning to avoid a rush of CUPs from institutions before the changes could be made.
Webster University attorney Gerard Carmody said the moratorium was unfair to the university as well as Eden Theological Seminary. He said the council already has the tools it needs to control the flow of CUPs, bocking proposals is unnecessary.
“Changing the rules now and simply saying we aren’t going to apply them for a period of six months is simply unfair,” Carmody said.
Mayor Gerry Welch said the moratorium was a positive action for all parties involved. She said reworking how zoning is handled for educational institutions the process would be much clearer and in improve relations between the city, the university and Eden.
“In the end this should be very positive,” Welch said. “It will provide something similar to what we have in our residential zoning district where people will know what they can and cannot do. It will make things much easier and with far less tension that we have had.”