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story.lead_photo.caption The former St. Mary's Hospital property Photo by Shelby Kardell / News Tribune.

The Jefferson City Council unanimously approved several bills centering on the redevelopment of the old St. Mary's Hospital on Monday, including one that will allow the city to construct a greenway trail near the former hospital.

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Developer F&F Development will pay Jefferson City $15,000 for two city-owned parcels on the redevelopment site, along with donating right-of-way to Jefferson City, so city staff can construct a 10-foot-wide greenway trail. The trail would extend along the 500 block of Dunklin street and 500-600 blocks of Bolivar Street.

The city also agreed to vacate a portion of city right-of-way in the 500 block of West Elm Street and 600 block of Walnut Street, giving F&F Development clear title to those pieces of land.

The Jefferson City Public Works and Planning Committee approved the agreement with F&F Development in June.

The developer purchased the 113-year-old hospital in 2015 after SSM Health relocated its hospital to Mission Drive in 2014.

F&F Development suggested redeveloping the site using tax increment financing to help offset the cost, and the City Council approved the TIF project last year.

The developer proposed two projects — one would involve Lincoln University and was estimated at $44.6 million with $7.3 million in TIF assistance, while the second would involve only commercial space and was estimated at $30.9 million with $6.7 million in TIF assistance.

F&F Development plans to demolish the 1905 portion of the old hospital and reuse the structure's stone for a new building. While it originally planned to redevelop the building, it didn't qualify for historic tax credits, and engineers deemed the 1905 portion structurally unsound.

Temporary sign regulations approved

Also Monday, the City Council unanimously approved a bill making changes to temporary sign regulations — without setting a limit on non-commercial temporary signs in residential areas.

While commercial signs advertise businesses, non-commercial signs include election, real estate, political or non-political signs.

Originally, city staff recommended a residential property have two non-commercial signs and an additional two signs per street frontage during election season. However, the city's Planning and Zoning Commission recommended last month there not be a limit on signs in residential properties.

Senior Planner Eric Barron presented a substitute bill earlier this month that set the limit at 10 signs on residential properties, adding he thinks many properties would comply to this substitute bill and it would be a compromise between the original bill and what the commission approved.

"What we are primarily concerned about — or at least the Law Department is concerned about — is the weaponization of temporary signs," City Counselor Ryan Moehlman said. "You would hate to see someone not use these for expressive purposes but purpose of annoyance or spite against their neighbors or something like that. What staff has come up with is a number that, based on some informal surveys of the city, would accommodate even the most enthusiastic user of temporary signs but still has an upper limit so signs aren't used for non-expressive purposes."

The compromised bill was not presented to the Planning and Zoning Commission, Barron said, which a couple of council members disliked.

Since the compromised bill was not presented to the commission before coming to the council, Ward 4 Councilman and bill sponsor Carlos Graham said, he would not offer that bill to the City Council to vote on Monday evening. This left the council to vote on the bill that contained the Planning and Zoning Commission recommendations, which the council passed.

With the number of temporary signs in residential neighborhoods unlimited, enforcing an excessive number of signs as a nuisance would be difficult since the code does not specify a number, Moehlman said.

Commercial signs are not permitted in residential areas, Barron said.

Temporary signs also will not be allowed on public right-of-way unless given prior permission.

City staff began pursuing this change in order to come in compliance with a Supreme Court ruling that states municipalities can't regulate non-commercial temporary signs based on the messages. Jefferson City used to regulated non-commercial temporary signs differently, Barron said previously.

The bill also fixes technical issues in the code, he added.

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