"It's amazing what one rundown house can do to the 20 around
it. Who wants to live next to a very trashy property?"
That concern, says R. Wes Walters III, is why residents of
Glasgow Village want a property conservation district. Walters,
chairman of the subdivision's Board of Trustees, has been working
for months to get the designation. The district in north St. Louis
County would be the first in an unincorporated area.
Buyers and renters in the district would need occupancy permits
from St. Louis County before they could move into houses or
apartments. Sellers and landlords would have to make repairs
required by the county's home maintenance code before an occupancy
permit is issued.
The county Planning Commission has recommended the plan to the
County Council. Walters said he hopes that the district will be in
place by the New Year.
St. Louis County does not require occupancy permits in
unincorporated areas. The County Council set up the district system
two years ago, to give the code enforcement tool to neighborhoods
that want it. The system is similar to one that has operated in St.
Louis for eight years. Many municipalities in the county require
residential occupancy permits, but Ferguson voters rejected the
idea on Nov. 8.
Glasgow Village, with 1,756 houses and about 5,200 residents,
is one of the largest subdivisions in St. Louis County. Most houses
are small, frame, ranch houses at least 40 years old. Through the
years, most owners replaced the original trim with siding and many
added carports or garages.
The conservation district would consist of the subdivision and
a largely wooded area between it and Interstate 270. The district
would be bounded by I-270, and the city limits of St. Louis,
Riverview Gardens and Bellefontaine Neighbors.
In a report to the County Council, the Planning Commission said
13 percent of the houses need repair. "Only a very few needed major
structural repairs, and none appeared to be dilapidated beyond
rehabilitation," the report said.
Walter said, "The trustees have been getting more and more
complaints" about such matters as high weeds or junk cars.
"We suggested that people do this or that," he said. "But we
have very little muscle."
The county report said that in the last seven years the
assessed value of houses in Glasgow Village has increased by 1
percent, while the value of houses in the entire county has
increased by 26 percent.
"Houses aren't being sold for their assessed value," Walters
Larry Smith, a longtime resident who lives at 455 Midlothian
Road, added, "I bought my house for $52,000. I couldn't sell it for