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.