By Dianne Sudbrock
UPDATED: September 8, 2021.
On September 7, 2021, The Hoffmann Family of Companies notified St. Charles County that they were withdrawing the Conditional Use Permit Request (CUP21-15) for the Helipad at the Hoffmann Lodge.
The St. Charles County Planning and Zoning Commission voted on Wednesday, August 18, 2021, to recommend approval for a request from the Hoffmann Family of Companies to rezone a 79-acre parcel in Augusta to the AT – Agricultural Tourism zoning classification to accommodate a lodge/hotel. The property lies between Church and Jackson Streets and has access to Route 94 to the north. Besides the rezoning request, there were two conditional uses requested: one for the proposed Hotel/Lodge, and one for a helipad on the acreage.
There was substantial protest from the community, primarily concerning the helipad, a proposed tethered hot air balloon, and an amphitheater that was mentioned as part of the plan.
There was also significant concern voiced about the increased traffic that this and other attractions in the area would bring to Hwy. 94 in general, as well as the specific proposed location for the entrance to the Hotel/Lodge. And there were concerns about potential outdoor music, fireworks and preservation of trees.
Numerous Augusta area residents spoke in opposition to various aspects of the three proposals, and numerous letters of opposition/concern were submitted. Various P&Z commission members, especially Tracy Boehmer, asked questions of the applicant and staff. In the end, the commission voted to recommend approval of the rezoning request for the acreage (RZ21-14); and the Conditional Use Permit (CUP21-14) for the hotel (with conditions limiting amplified music and fireworks, as well as requiring a MoDOT traffic study.) In regards to the helipad, the commission voted against recommending approval.
On Friday, August 27, 2021, David Hoffmann, founder of the Hoffmann Family of Companies, issued a letter to Augusta residents stating that he understood and agreed with their concerns about the helipad, “I hear you and agree, the location is not in the best interest of the community and we will not pursue it any further. If we continue to move forward with helicopter tours, we will utilize Washington airport.” (The CUP for the Helipad was withdrawn Sept. 7, 2021.)
Hoffmann also addressed concerns about an amphitheater at the lodge site, stating there are no plans for an amphitheater at that site. “The envisioned use for the outdoor area at the lodge is for a live musician around a bonfire or lawn with blankets and an outdoor projector to watch movies, not live concerts or large outdoor events. Additionally, we will follow all [MoDOT] recommendations based on their traffic study as well as engage locals for advice.”
Regarding the approval process: it is important to understand that the Planning and Zoning Commission can only make recommendations to the County Council. The County Council has the final say, and it can follow, ignore, or edit P&Z recommendations. The rezoning request and conditional use permit for the hotel are expected to be introduced at the St. Charles County Council meeting on Sept. 13, with a vote expected at the next meeting on Sept. 27. Agendas for the upcoming meetings, and associated documents, can be viewed in advance at the St. Charles County website (sccmo.org.) Meetings are video recorded and can be watched live, or later via YouTube, including the August 18 meeting.