The city of Frontenac, in Saint Louis County, has enacted a moratorium on new developments within a commercial area of the city. Officials in Ellisville, also in Saint Louis County, are considering enacting a similar moratorium for a prime area of land near the controversial (to say the least) proposed Tax Increment Financing (TIF). Is this an appropriate use of municipal powers? No, it is not.
In Frontenac’s case, it is my understanding that one business is now being prevented from going forward with a move and expansion even though the area has always been zoned commercial. I do not believe it is proper for a government to tell a commercial enterprise that it cannot develop its own property — which is entirely within a commercial area.
In Ellisville, it seems strange that they are trying to block development of a parcel when, according to their pro-TIF arguments, economic development is so important to the city. I have no idea why they are proposing this. My guess is that someone has had the temerity to try to develop the land in a manner that does not fit with the grand TIF plan. Oh, the horror!
The enemy in these cases, as usual, is municipal planning. The rights of property owners to develop their property (especially when it complies with existing zoning regulation) should far outweigh the desire for a municipal plan put together by planners and lawyers who have no idea how to grow an economy. The history of government planning is not a good one.