Brian Kelly (@brpkelly)By Brian Kelly

CHESTERFIELD, Mo. (KMOX) – The residents of Chesterfield’s only mobile home park can breathe a little easier after the city’s zoning commission rejected a rezoning request from a developer who wants to build an apartment complex there.

The vote was 5-3.

“We won one battle,” says resident Dr. Ed Ernstrom, “but it’s not the end of the war for us.”

The nearly 12-acre, tree-lined park on Old Chesterfield Parkway contains 140 single-wide mobile homes. The developer wants to replace it with 298 apartments.

Ernstrom, a chiropractor, says most of the residents are low-income and Hispanic. He says the developer’s buyout offer would leave them in a tough spot.

“The offer to buy us out is not a buyout. It’s actually just kind of like, ‘here’s a little bit of money and good luck.'”

On Tuesday morning, shifts of students waited for school buses while their parents left for work in a steady stream of cars and pickups. Ernstrom says these are the people who are vital for the businesses in the Chesterfield Valley and west St. Louis County.

“These are the employees that make those companies work. A lot of the restaurants, a lot of the hotels, a lot of the landscaping, a lot of the roofing.”

Following Monday’s vote, the developer has 18 days to appeal the decision before it goes to the City Council. Ernstrom expects him to appeal. If his proposal is rejected, Ernstrom says, the residents are working on a community land trust.

“We are seeking out financial backing to actually help us purchase the property from (the owner). Philanthropically or investment-wise, depending on the people with the deep pockets. We do have some opportunities already that are just ready for this all to go the opposite direction.”

But that could be a while. Ernstrom says the entire process could take up to a year.

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