Shiloh trustees discuss status of commercial development

Dennis Maher, director of sales for Fort Worth, Texas- based Buxton Co., spoke to trustees about the status of economic and commercial development in the Village.
(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Annabelle Knef)

SHILOH – At the Shiloh Committee at Large meeting, Dennis Maher, director of sales for Fort Worth, Texas- based Buxton Co., spoke to trustees about the status of economic and commercial development in the Village. 

The Village of Shiloh entered into an approximate $50,000 per year contractual agreement with Buxton in June of 2018. While Buxton is known as one of the largest aggregators of consumer analytics in the nation, trustees expressed frustration at the March 25 meeting that the company has not done enough to meet the needs for the community. 

Maher said since Buxton has begun representing Shiloh, they have performed analysis identifying which retailers would be willing to locate within the market and have made the “initial outreach to those retailers.” 

Maher spoke of the importance of trying to touch base with potential retailers on a weekly basis. “Just to be that squeaky wheel and get in front of them to try and engage in those conversations.” 

“I think implementation wise and outreach, we can definitely strengthen on,” Maher said. “We will do that together, whether it’s looking for additional contacts, new contacts — but creating a better system in that outreach.” 

“I think overall with the evaluation we have done is great,” he said. “Retail recruitment overall takes time, it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. On our end, we would ask for patience.” 

Maher said representatives from Buxton are communicating with Village administrator John Marquart bi-weekly. 

When asked by trustee Colleen Powers if the Village has heard feedback from Costco, Marquart said they have not heard whether the business would be willing to locate in Shiloh. 

Trustee Mark Herrmann brought up the discussion of the retail market and what its status will be 10 to 15 years down the line. 

“Are we going to be buying stuff from Amazon?” Herrmann asked the board. “Are these stores going to want to put up more brick and mortars?”

Herrmann said the Village may need to get ahead of the curve and see what would still be here in 10 years. 

“When we’re looking at retail, we are looking at healthy retail,” Maher said. “We are looking at the experience you cannot get online.” 

Maher said healthy retail could look like sit- down farm to table dining concepts or a trampoline park. “We will always have to go buy goods and services from somewhere.” 

Trustee Greg O’Neil said in the last nine months of the contract agreement with Buxton, himself and other trustees have not been updated on the status of incoming commercial development. 

“In this whole process we have been doing this, nine months, unless I missed something — I’ve never been updated that these guys have done anything for us. Up until now, you don’t even exist to us,” O’Neil said. 

Mayor Jim Vernier said attracting retailers right now in the current climate “is very difficult.” He said he understands if retailers aren’t responding to Buxton, but the Village needs more transparency on what is being done in the process to attract businesses. 

“$50,000 a year is a lot of money,” Vernier said.  

Maher expressed to the board of trustees that increased correspondence will take place and that analytics and informational reports will be shared on the process of attracting commercial developments. 

With the incoming informational report from Buxton, trustees will continue discussion of the partnership at the next meeting board meeting on April 1. The board will take action on the Buxton Company contract renewal at the May 6 board meeting.

Vernier then discussed with the board the status of 3429 Langford Drive home in the Ashford Farms subdivision. 

The home, visible from Green Mount Road, caught fire and burned in May of 2018, according to Vernier. 

Vernier said a fire investigation is currently in federal court and the owner of the house is also seeking approval to have it fixed or demolished. 

“Neighbors have been looking at it for a year,” Vernier said. “I don’t like driving by it and looking at it on Green Mount Road. Those people all have very beautiful homes and they pay a lot of taxes for them. They shouldn’t have to look at it.”

“I understand it is in court and the homeowner is trying to do what he can. That doesn’t do the neighbors any justice,” he said. “This could be in court for years.”

Vernier said the Village of Shiloh has condemnation rights — he then asked the board to authorize the Village attorney, Terry Bruckert, to authorize the condemnation of the property. 

“I think we pursue it and seek recovery of costs from either the owner or bank that financed it,” he said. “We are showing the neighbors that we are concerned about it.”

“Once we serve the copy of the condemnation, he has 30 days to respond.” The motion passed with trustees authorizing Bruckert to pursue condemnation of 3429 Langford Drive. 

Trustees then authorized the Village to enter into a partnership with Scott Air Force Base to work together to develop the Lower Silver Creek Watershed Plan. 

The plan is not mandatory, but to encourage voluntary improvements to improve water quality, implement stormwater management practices and work collectively to achieve the goals of the plan. It’s overall goal is commitment to promote a healthy environment within the community. 

“Just to be good neighbors is a reason for us to approve of it,” Vernier said. The motion passed. 

Aldermen given first look at proposed $84.1 million budget

By Martha Stoffel

O’FALLON – The Finance Department provided an overview of the entire city budget to the Finance & Administration Committee Monday night. The FY20 budget will begin May 1, 2019 and run through April 30, 2020. 

The proposed budget reflects a twelve percent increase from the previous year totaling $84,102,168, primarily due to several, planned public works projects. City Council will vote on the FY20 budget at their April 1 and April 15 meetings, with a public hearing at the April 15th meeting. 

Public Works projects represent 50.5 percent of the total proposed FY20 city budget. The largest item being upgrades and additions to the waste water treatment plan that were included in the city’s five-year Capital Improvement Plan. The project will include the installation of a sludge dewatering facility and the installation of filters to reduce phosphorus effluent levels. Approximately $4 million from the waste water reserve account will be transferred to help fund the $9 million project. 

The Finance Department also recommended each department add a line item for capital reserves as a way to plan for long-term projects. As an example, the Community Development Department placed $25,000 in the capital reserves line for a future comprehensive plan that will likely cost $100,000 when completed in the future and the Fire Department placed $135,000 in capital reserves for a future engine replacement. 

A resolution declaring surplus of funds in the city’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) accounts for the 2017 tax year was presented. The surpluses for TIF #3 (Central Park Drive), TIF #4 (Highway 50/Troy-Scott Road – Metroplex), and TIF #5 (Central City) represent the agreed pass-throughs. 

The final surplus was for TIF #1 (158/Rasp Farm) which expired June 2018. As part of an agreement for their participation in the property tax abatement incentive in the enterprise zone, the city agreed to declare a surplus for the remaining funds in TIF #1 and distribute the balance proportionally instead of using the balance for a sewer project within the TIF area. The balance for TIF #1 is $300,343.06 for the 2017 taxes. At the time of the committee meeting, all taxing bodies except SWIC have agreed to participate in the property tax abatement incentive. The SWIC Board of Trustees meets March 27th. 

The city also received its 2018 tax extension, based on the tax levy council approved in December. Due to a larger than expected increase to the Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) for the city, the 2018 calculated tax rate will be less than previously anticipated. The new tax rate for the city of O’Fallon and library will be 0.9480, down from 0.9837 in 2017. The city of O’Fallon saw an increase of $31 million to their rate-setting EAV, a 4.7 percent increase from 2017. City staff reviewed reserve account balances prior to and during committee approval and reduced the levy request at that time, so the city does not need to abate any additional taxes during the tax extension review.


Key Housing Market Statistics in the Metro-East Released

SHILOH, IL – February Home Sales Close Out the Winter Market with a Bang.

Home Sales

The number of homes sold increased in the Metro-East in February. Home sales in St. Clair and Madison Counties saw a rise of 11.18 and 33.0 percent year to date over 2018. Montgomery and Clinton, and Randolph Counties increased by 35.7, 36.4 and 22.2 percent.

Compared to January, home sales increased in almost every county. Macoupin, Jersey, and St. Clair Counties had increases of 5.9, 8.3, and 12.5 percent. Monroe, Montgomery, and Madison Counties homes sold 23.5, 26. 7, and 26.7 percent faster. Randolph County saw a large increase of 175 percent increase.

Home Prices

Home prices had a steady increase over February 2018. St. Clair and Madison counties had increases of 2.9 and 12.0 percent. Monroe and Macoupin Counties both saw moderate increases of 13.1 and 26.0 percent.

While, Jersey and Montgomery County home prices rose 32.5 and 73.9 percent compared to February 2018.

“The Metro-East Housing Market has continued to thrive through a bitter winter and I’m excited to see what Spring will bring.” Says Judy Ross, President of the REALTOR® Association of Southwestern Illinois.

Days on Market

Homes in Madison, Montgomery, and Clinton Counties sold faster in February 2019 than February of last year with 4.3, 49.7, and 52.7 percent decrease in days. According to Realtor.com and their study of the 50 largest real estate markets, the best week of the year to list your home is March 31 to April 6. Homes listed that week tend to sell faster, for more money than earlier in the year.

Planning Commission approves veterinary clinic on East Hwy 50

James Bollmeier of Advanced Veterinary Center spoke to the Planning Commission about his proposed veterinary clinic on East Highway 50.
(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Annabelle Knef)

O’FALLON –At a planning commission meeting on Tuesday, March 12, the commission oversaw an application from James Bollmeier of Advanced Veterinary Center requesting a planned use approval to operate a veterinary clinic and boarding operation in existing buildings off Highway 50. 

The buildings, which are located at 706 and 800 E. Highway 50, is a 3.5 acre site located across from the O’Fallon Township High School football field and has approximately 21,000 square feet of total office space. The site was previously occupied by Memorial Healthcare but has been vacant since January of 2018. 

 Bollmeier requested of the planning commission that the property be rezoned from “B-1” Community Business District to “B-1P” Planned Community Business District. 

The proposed development would utilize the existing buildings to provide veterinary services — including exams, imaging, routine surgeries and overnight boarding. No changes will be made to the interior floor plan. 

The property surrounding the proposed Advanced Veterinary Center is a mixture of non-residential and residential uses, including a school, apartments, retail, and single-family residences.

At the March 12 meeting, residents of Holliday Drive in O’Fallon voiced their concerns about the proposed business and its proximity to their homes. Holliday Drive is a residential street behind the business. 

Patty Sergott of 909 Holliday Drive said she was concerned over the noise of dogs within the two buildings. 

“You need to reassure us,” Sergott said to Bollmeier about the potential noise of his business. “We’re not far. We’re on that street right behind.”

Kelly Steadman, an engineer from Woolpert, Inc., said at the meeting that a sound study was conducted for the buildings. 

Steadman said they recorded the noisiest sound from Bollmeier’s existing Four Paws building at 2006 West Highway 50. 

“We took that sound and recreated it at the same decibel levels that we recorded and put it inside the building and played it,” she said. “What we found when we went out to those property corners was that the sound levels were a little bit lower without it playing.”

“That shows the acoustics of the building were dampening the sounds of the dogs during the day when they were barking. The traffic noises were actually even louder.”

The planning commission recommended the approval of the project with the following conditions:

1. The dedicated dog-walking areas must be fenced with a 6-foot vinyl fence.

2. The animal waste shall be properly disposed, so as to not create a nuisance to surrounding property

owners.

3. Signage will be required to meet the regulations of Article 8 of Chapter 158: Zoning of the Code of

Ordinances, including the removal of the sign on 706 E Highway 50.

4. The parking lot must be restriped, and accessible parking signs brought into compliance with Illinois Accessibility Code requirements.

 The commission removed the recommendation that a six-foot vinyl fence must be provided along the rear of the parking lot.

The commission also approved a recommendation that Bollmeier have another sound study completed in the evening and at 800 E. Highway 50. The sound study conducted previously was only at one of the two buildings, 706 E. Highway 50. 

BBB warns job seekers should be on high alert for scams

By Scot Bertram, Illinois News Network

Job seekers should be on high alert for potential scams.

That’s the word from the Better Business Bureau, which reported the number of employment scams increased in 2018 along with financial losses. Steve Bernas, president and CEO of the BBB in Chicago and Northern Illinois, said there are some warning signs to look for.

“An employment scam is when you post your résumé online or you go to a job site, and all of the sudden you get a note or a text or an email basically saying they have a job for you,” Bernas said. “And that job usually is going to pay you a lot of money for doing little to no work and with little to no education or experience.”

The BBB report said these scams are effective because they prey on people who may be desperate for work.

“I talked to one individual last month and he said, ‘I never thought in my wildest dreams I’d have to worry about a scam when I’m posting my résumé online.’ It’s sad that it’s come down to that,” Bernas said. “These people’s guard is not up because they think they’re going to a legitimate organization to work.”

Employment scammers often impersonate leading brands like Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft when fishing for information.

“These scammers realize they need some details to steal your identity,” Bernas said. “The best way to get it is to go after individuals looking for jobs. The scammers are asking for the same kind of information that a new employer is.”

Other employment scams simply mirror the methods of other schemes.

“The tip off to the rip off is if you get a check from anyone and they tell you deposit it and wire money back or buy a product or service,” Bernas said. “It’s fake. It’s fraudulent. Don’t do it.”

While much attention has been paid to scams targeting the elderly, the report found it is 18-to-24 year olds who are losing the most money to scams.

“The reason behind that, we believe, is there are so many fraudulent offers through emails and online and that’s where the young generation really lives,” Bernas said. “As parents and educators and teachers, we need to inform these young consumers that they have to research organizations with the Better Business Bureau and other organizations.”

For the first time, the BBB reported that websites have taken over the top position as a means of contact for a scam.

“The biggest tip I can give you today is you have to do research on these organizations,” Bernas said. “You can’t trust it just because they’re on the internet. You can’t trust what they say. Figure it out. Look at those organizations.”

Oasis cuts ribbon on O’Fallon-Shiloh operation

SHILOH – The O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce joined Oasis as they celebrated their open house at the Shiloh Senior Center located at 7 Park Drive in Shiloh, IL. The festivities began on Friday, February 22 with a ribbon cutting ceremony followed by the open house. Participants enjoyed class demonstrations, health screenings, entertainment, and refreshments. The mission of Oasis is to enrich the lives of older adults. 

  “We are pleased to work closely with community leaders as we expand quality programming,” stated Paul Weiss, President of Oasis. “These rich offerings in the Shiloh-O’Fallon area will provide older adults with exciting educational, health and wellness, and social connection opportunities.”

Oasis is a pioneer in the field of healthy aging, empowering adults to lead healthy lives. Whether a retired baby boomer or someone simply interested in maintaining an active lifestyle, adults now have greater access to quality programs in art, entertainment, health and wellness, history, technology and more. To register for the FREE Aging Mastery Program at the Shiloh Senior Center or to learn more about Oasis, call 314.862.4859 ext. 24 or visit stloasis.org.

Shiloh McDonald’s celebrates 10 years

Sandy Smallwood, Director of Operations, Avodah Management dba McDonald’s, cuts the ribbon celebrating ten years of operation in Shiloh. (Submitted Photo)

SHILOH – The Shiloh McDonald’s located at 1153 Green Mount Road celebrated its 10th anniversary Thursday, February 21 with a ribbon cutting. Owner Gene Stanford welcomed O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce members, other community leaders and customers. “Ten years is a milestone anniversary and I thought this was a great opportunity to thank our customers and the Shiloh community for their support,” said Stanford. “This is a great community in which to live, work and play and I am honored to be a part of it.” 

Following the ribbon cutting, customers were able to win prizes such as free meals and McDonald’s swag. Also throughout the day on the 21st, customers who visited the restaurant were able to purchase cheeseburgers for $.69.

McDonald’s serves 25 million customers every day around the world. Ninety-five percent of its 14,000 U.S. restaurants are independently owned and operated by business people like Gene Stanford. 

KMOX selects Rock Steady Boxing as March’s Voice Caring Partner

By Kate Crutcher

O’FALLON – KMOX is highlighting one community, not-for-profit organization each month as the Voice of Caring (VOC) partner. For the month of March, they have selected Rock Steady Boxing of O’Fallon. 

Rock Steady Boxing O’Fallon was started by Deb Belsheim and helps people with Parkinson’s through exercise programs, support and fun ways to enjoy life. During the exercise programs, members use anything from balls to ropes to free weights to improve their balance, strength, range of motion and more. 

“Parkinson’s causes unique symptoms. Our boxers enjoy the camaraderie that comes from being around others with PD. They get one another,” Belsheim said. 

Everyone who helps out at Rock Steady Boxing, included Deb herself, are all volunteers. Rock Steady Boxing encourages the community to join their fight, Fighting Back Against Parkinson’s. For more information about Rock Steady Boxing feel free to call (618)589-9080 or visit their website at www.rsbofallon.com.

Chamber celebrates Furchild Pet Boutique ribbon cutting

O’FALLON – The O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce joined owner Julie Hughes as she celebrated her new specialty pet boutique at 105 East First Street in Downtown O’Fallon.  They celebrated with a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house March 5.        

With the help of her dedicated family and friends, Julie Hughes opened Furchild so she could better serve her community of pets and pet-lovers.  She recognized the need for a pet-friendly store where people could find high-quality food, treats, toys, and supplies for cats and dogs.  Years of research went into choosing which products to carry, and nearly every product has been tested by her very own furchildren.  As an advocate for pet health and wellbeing, she included two DIY bathing stations that allow pet-parents to save money while bonding with their pets during bath time.  Each station is equipped with natural, pH-balanced products, brushes, towels, adjustable heated dryers, and waterproof aprons.  

Furchild was founded on the principle of being a community-centered, philanthropic business.  Within the first two months of opening, Furchild returned nearly $2,500 to the O’Fallon community through various donations to schools, rescue organizations, and individuals in need.  Julie hopes that Furchild will become an integral partner in the continuous growth and development of the city of O’Fallon.   

Township gives thumbs up to enterprise zone

The planned development consists of 1,500 acres north of Scott Air Force Base, located between Interstate-64 Exits 19 and 21.  (Submitted Photo)

By Martha Stoffel

O’FALLON – At the March 6th meeting of the O’Fallon Township board of trustees, approval was given for the township to participate in the property tax abatement incentive for the MidAmerica Enterprise Zone. 

The enterprise zone was established in 1990 to allow a variety of incentives to be offered to businesses wanting to develop the land within the zone. While the zone has offered many incentives, it did not include property tax abatement. The property tax abatement incentive is for ten years, with a declining scale in abatement. Property tax years one through seven will be at 100% abatement, year eight at 70%, year nine at 40%, and year ten at 10%. The abatement is applied on a per-project basis for new construction only. 

The city of O’Fallon was approached by developer TriStar Companies to develop approximately 200 acres of the northwest corner of the Rieder Road exit. Initial plans from TriStar include six, 100,000 square foot warehouse facilities, but they indicated property tax abatement is needed to incentivize tenants. 

Each taxing body within the zone must vote to approve their voluntary participation in the incentive. At a meeting in February with District 90 and 203 school boards, the city and TriStar indicated the proposed development would not be able to be completed without the full participation of all taxing bodies with the tax abatement. 

O’Fallon mayor Herb Roach and city staff members gave a brief presentation to township trustees prior to the board’s vote. Township Supervisor Gary Ahle was concerned about the potential impact this would have on township residents along Rieder Road. He raised specific questions about whether residents would be forcibly annexed into the city as the enterprise zone developed. City Administrator Walter Denton and city attorney Todd Fleming said they would not, and they could retain their land and stay in the township for as long as they desired. 

Residents from Rieder Road were in attendance and were concerned about safety and increase in traffic. Since the interstate interchange has been added, one resident indicated four to five tractor-trailers per day come north on Rieder Road only to have to turn around at the one-lane portion of the road under the railroad tracks. City staff indicated road improvements would need to be made eventually, but Rieder Road is under St. Clair County’s jurisdiction and the railroad is still owned by CSX. 

Other township items discussed:

• Approval of bills associated with highway commissioner projects, specifically the road department building, resealing and restriping the township parking lot and work outside the main gate of the township building. 

• Approval of a donation to the O’Fallon Township High School Blizzard program for $300.

• Annual town meeting to be held April 9 at 7:00 p.m. at the O’Fallon Township Building.

Key Housing Market Statistics in the Metro-East Released

 SHILOH, IL – With home prices in the Metro East on the rise, and Spring just around the corner, now is a great time to put your home on the market. 

Home Sales 

The number of homes sold in the rural counties of the Metro-East are selling faster than this time last year. Home sales in Macoupin County increased by 41.67, while Montgomery and Clinton Counties increased by 36.36 and 18.75 percent. Monroe and Clinton Counties saw a rise of 7.79 and 8.04 percent year-to-date over 2018. Madison County homes sold 0.96 percent faster than January 2018. 

Home Prices 

Home prices rose from January last year in most of the Metro-East. St. Clair and Madison County home prices rose 20.43 and 10.46 percent compared to January 2018. Randolph and Jersey counties had increases of 41.5 and 25.36 percent. Clinton and Montgomery counties also had increases of 12.04 and 5.2 percent. 

“Buying a home can seem stressful, but, using a REALTOR® can help take the stress out of the situation. REALTORS® are upheld to the REALTOR® Code of Ethics, which is a pledge of honesty, integrity, professionalism, and community service. Using a REALTOR® gives the peace of mind that comes from working with a real advocate and trusted professional who is committed to their clients’ futures and neighborhoods, just as much as they aresays REALTOR® Association of Southwestern Illinois President Judy Ross. 

Days on Market 

Homes in Madison, Montgomery, and Randolph Counties sold faster in January 2019 than January of last year with 8.6, 25.93, and 58.24 percent decrease in days. While other counties saw an increase in days on the market over last year, incidents such as the extreme weather the Metro East has seen and an extended government shutdown, could have played a factor in homes not selling as fast. 

Lebanon delays awarding mowing contract due to contract concerns

By Angela Simmons

LEBANON – Companies that bid on a mowing contract with the City of Lebanon will have to wait another week to find out any information. At a special council meeting on March 4, the council voted to delay any kind of vote until legal representatives could look over the contract after city attorneys deemed any contract typed by city administration to be “inappropriate.”

“I was asked to review a contract put together by the clerk, and I question whether it’s the responsibility for the clerk to put together contracts. I spoke to both John [Long] and Terry [Bruckert], and they said no, it’s a legal contract that should be put together by the city attorney, so I don’t think we should be voting on that tonight,” said Mayor Rich Wilken. 

The contract is to mow at College Hill Cemetery. At the February 25 city council meeting, Alderwoman Cheri Wright, the head of the city’s Cemetery Committee, opened sealed bids. Before doing so, she said   “Prior to opening them, I’d like to make a motion to accept the lowest bid, pending checks of their qualifications.” Alderman Al Gerdes pointed out that the city already had the responsibility of accepting the lowest responsible bid, meaning lowest cost that meets the full insurance and other qualifications. Attorney John Long said making the motion and taking a vote to accept the lowest responsible bid “couldn’t hurt.” The vote was unanimous.

The bids for contract were opened in order of receipt. Wilson’s Landscaping, who previously held the contract with the city, offered a two year contract for 2019 and 2020 at $975.00, with an option to add 2021 at $995. Precision Lawn and Tree offered a two year contract for 2019 and 2020 at $925, with a 2021 option at $945. Green’s Grass Guy bid $875 for 2019 and 2020, and kept the price the same for a third year option. The final bid was from Homescape Outdoor Services for $1,300 for 2019 and 2020 with no third year option. 

The bids were priced per cut of the cemetery property, and Wright said that there’s an average of 23 to 25 cuts per year from April 1 through November 30. According to the bid letter, each Monday, the contractor would be contacted by the “City Street Superintendent” Jody McNeese who would inform them whether or not there was a need to mow. The letter continued in listing the specifications of the job, including “Each mowing should include trimming of headstones, copings and markers. Each mowing will include removal of debris from headstones, copings and markers.” It also stated “Contractor will maintain liability and worker’s compensation insurance for duration of contract.” 

Alderwoman Wright was responsible for vetting the lowest responsible bidder, which would have been Green’s Grass Guy, run by Anthony Sutton and his girlfriend Danielle Green. Scott Wilson of Wilson Landscaping urged the city to figure out whether or not Green’s Grass Guy was sub-contracting his work and had the proper insurance. 

“I see these numbers coming in, and I deal with this all the time, and the question would be whether or not he’s subcontracting or doing the work himself,” Wilson said. 

Sutton and Green, also present, confirmed that Sutton and a part-time employee would do the work. A volunteer Caseyville firefighter with ten years of landscaping experience, he said this would be his company’s first municipal contract. 

At the March 4 special meeting, after an exchange where the contract and possible insurance concerns were brought up, Sutton asked for a copy of the contract before it would need to be signed so that his attorney could view the paperwork, and several aldermen also said they wanted to view a possible contract before the March 11 council meeting where an official vote would be expected. 

Along with this discussion, Alderman Rick Gale said he would like a presentation from lawyers from Bruckert, Gruenke & Long that outlines specifically what services are covered under their retainer, and which services are extra. 

“I don’t want John to be the one to do it, because his comment is that so-and-so from the office does that. I want whomever in their office handles this to be the one to explain. I don’t think we have a good understanding of exactly what’s covered,” Gale said. His request was supported by other council members. 

In Other News:

• The council gave approval to amending the minimum acreage under a planned unit development in SR-1, R-2 and MH-1 zoning districts from five acres to three acres. The Ladriere Building Company will be able to move forward with developing the subdivision Perryman and Woodland. Jeff LaDriere said he was thrilled to be able to “get to work,” and quipped “Proper planning is mightier than the shovel.”

Split council gives early approval to proposed liquor store

By Martha Stoffel

O’FALLON – The O’Fallon City Council was divided but ultimately gave first round approval to a new business, Mirage Liquor and Spirits, located on the west end of town in building previously occupied by Creve Coeur Camera.

The applicant, Davuthan Kilic, is requesting the property be rezoned to allow for packaged liquor sales. Residents and business owners near the proposed business location, 2020 West Highway 50, spoke against the rezoning citing concerns for safety, density of alcohol sales at that intersection and potential decline in property value. The property is located at the intersection of West Highway 50 and Old Collinsville Road. Currently a Huck’s convenience store operates on the northwest corner of the intersection, with a Motomart to be built on the southwest corner.

Dr. Anne Bollmeier operates the neighboring dental office, Bollmeier Dental, and is concerned about increased crime and shared research that included a study from Johns Hopkins University that concluded, “Alcohol outlets that sell for off-premise alcohol consumption have a stronger association of incidences with violent crime, including homicides, aggravated sexual assaults and robbery.” 

Bollmeier is particularly concerned about the safety of her staff. 

“I worry about letting my staff leave at night already with some of what’s going on in that area, and now I feel like this would definitely increase that. I have a lot of younger women working with me and for me, and I try and make sure they don’t even leave alone and it’s sad to me that have to even say that to my staff,” said Bollmeier.

A petition signed by 128 residents within the notification buffer zone of the property was presented to the council by Dr. James Bollmeier. 

“The 128 represent the residents in the area, and I think we need to take them into consideration,” said James Bollmeier. 

Property owner Brad McMillin addressed the council saying, “at the end of the day we’re making a lot of assumptions that it’s automatically going to cause trouble.” McMillin indicated he wants a decent business there and has talked with the business owner about everything from the aesthetics of the property, to security, lighting, and will work with the city regarding landscaping and any fencing that needs to be done. 

“The business owner doesn’t want any loitering going on there, and he’s going to keep decent hours,” said McMillin. The proposed business hours have the store opening at 10 a.m. each day, closing at 10 p.m. during the week and 11 p.m. on the weekend. 

McMillin shared with council that the business owner has talked about inviting the O’Fallon Police Department to have a substation at the business if they’d like. Regarding the assumption of increased crime, McMillin said “I’m not disputing the fact that things happen in this world, but you can’t automatically penalize a business that wants to come in the door.”

Council voted to approve the rezoning 8-5 after much discussion. Aldermen Jerry Albrecht, John Drolet, Ned Drolet, Bob Kueker and Gwen Randolph voted against the proposal and Alderman Chris Monroe was absent. 

Ward 5 Alderwoman Gwen Randolph shared research with the council regarding the effects of alcohol on the body, specifically the central nervous system, and her take from a community health and wellness perspective. Prior to the vote she commented additionally saying, “this is my part of town, I live in the community. I do not want to see a liquor store in my community.” 

Matthew Gilreath, Ward 3 Alderman commented “The original intent (of the property) was a 7-Eleven which sells packaged goods, so we’re not going off the beaten path here, we’re putting back something that was the original intent.” Gilreath also suggested when properties sit abandoned and they’re not taken care of, that also creates crime. He felt the proposed business meets or exceeds the ordinance requirements and would be returning the property to its original intent.  

Ward 4 Alderman John Drolet began his comments by recognizing the investments and contributions made into the city by McMillin and the Bollmeiers. He indicated a week ago he was in favor of this, but has had time to reflect and give thought as a business owner in town with a vacant building next door currently. 

“I thought, ‘Would I want a liquor store in a building next to mine,’ and I would not,” Drolet said. In a later comment, Drolet indicated that the residents and businesses in that area are opposed to this. “I think you have to listen to the people that are there, and not make decisions that ‘we know best.’ Maybe we don’t know best.” 

Some of the comments by residents and aldermen pointed toward whether or not a high-end liquor store would be successful on that end of town and with two gas stations across the intersection. Ward 7 Alderman David Cozad commented prior to the vote that it’s not his job to tell a business owner whether or not their business plan will work, but to determine if it fits what the city’s trying to do. Cozad also stated, “I agree that a building that is occupied is much better than a building that is sitting vacant.”

Ward 2 Alderman Bob Kueker expressed shared concerns with the current residents and neighbors, as well as those of the planning commission. “I don’t like denying businesses to O’Fallon, but I think there are other priorities in this location,” said Kueker.

The proposed rezoning ordinance will appear for second reading at the community development committee meeting on March 11 and for final approval before City Council on March 18.

View of the Past: Ines Foy’s West End Tavern in 1984

This week’s view is of Ines Foy’s West End Tavern at 220 W. State Street in O’Fallon as it looked in 1984.  Originally a boarding house for coal miners, the building later became a bakery under various owners and then a tavern.  Lisbeth Brown bought the structure in 1988, taking on the challenge of converting a tavern into a new home for DanceStation which is still there today.

(Contributed by Brian Keller, O’Fallon Historical Society)

Memorial East will host Picky Eaters versus Problem Feeders

SHILOH –  A program to assist parents and caregivers regarding troubles feeding children ages 18 months to seven years will be held Tuesday, March 12, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Memorial Hospital East, Community Conference Room, second floor, 1404 Cross Street, Shiloh,

Picky Eaters vs. Problem Feeders will be presented by Rosanna Harmon, occupational therapist, with Memorial’s Rehab Services Department will present tips and techniques to assist providing optimum nutrition for younger children.

This program is free but registration is required: call toll free (833) 607-3627 or visit www.mymemorialnetwork.com/events