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The conditional use permits issued for a proposed new Walmart in Ellisville are set to expire Thursday, and the fate of the project remains unclear.
Developer Sansone won a major court challenge to the $50 million project last week, but still has acquired only about eight acres of land and that doesn't include the Clarkchester Apartments. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that contracts Sansone had with some of the complex's nine owners expired in July, and at least two have declined to renew.
The city issued a building permit Wednesday and Public Works Director Bill Schwer told the paper Sansone could break ground Thursday on the property it does own.
But at Wednesday night's city council meeting, Mayor Adam Paul asked City Attorney George Restovich to find out if the city could legally terminate its agreement with Sansone which includes $10 million in tax increment financing approved last year, before half the council was replaced in the last election.
Also Wednesday night, the City Council voted 4-3 to have Restovich draft a resolution terminating long-time City Manager Kevin Bookout, a proponent of the project. Bookout was also involved in the attempt to oust Mayor Paul earlier this year, but Paul says Bookout's termination isn't about revenge.
One more obstacle to the proposed Ellisville Walmart is out of the way. An appeals court has sided with the developer after a resident had sued the city for issuing a conditional use permit to for construction of the 155,000 square foot retail store.
Thomas DeBold had sued claimed that city officials had ignored resident's concerns and that the Walmart will negatively impact traffic, overtax utilities and city services. Circuit Court Judge David Lee Vincent had sided with the city, and the appeals court upheld Vincent's ruling.
But it may be too little too late, since the permit expires September 5th and the Ellisville City Council last week declined to extend it.
The development of a new Walmart in Ellisville will move forward despite the developer's failure to win a permit extension from the city council.
Walmart’s director of public affairs Chris Neeley told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the extension was sought to give the builders breathing room, but that the company will continue to work to see the project through.
The Ellisville City Council voted 3-3 Wednesday night to deny Sansone Group's request for a 180 day extension of a conditional use permit for construction of the project.
The Post reports that Mayor Adam Paul, whose campaign for office was based on his opposition the tax-supported project, and Aldermen Linda Reel and Mick Cahill rejected the request.
Aldermen Matt Pirrello, Cindy Pool and Roz Acup backed the extension.
Alderman Gary Voss was absent.
Some Crestwood residents say city leaders are dragging their feet on a plan to redevelop the shuttered Crestwood Plaza. Dozens of people marched from the old mall to City Hall Tuesday to express their concern.
Developer Centrum Properties wants to turn the site into an entertainment center with a movie theater, bowling alley, restaurants and retail stores. But their plan calls for $22 million in taxpayer subsidies -- a figure Crestwood Mayor Jeff Schlink says he and many aldermen are not "comfortable" with.
"If we're going to grant and issue those tax breaks for them," Schlink said, "they're going to have to be done on terms that we feel are reasonable for the city."
Centrum officials say if they can't work things out, they may have to sell the land one parcel at a time.
Despite opposition from reinstated Ellisville Mayor Adam Paul, tax breaks for a proposed Walmart development are moving forward, albeit slowly. The City Council voted 4-3 Wednesday night to authorize TIFs for project developer Sansone Group.
The vote came after Jim Sansone and Mayor Paul exchanged heated words during the packed meeting. Sansone promised court action if the council reversed their 2012 approval of the development. Paul acknowledged his continued opposition, but also recognized that the council majority would rule.
A second vote is needed to finalized the bill. That's expected to happen at a special council meeting later this month.
The Ellisville City Council is expected to decide Monday evening whether or not to impeach their mayor, Adam Paul. The council has scheduled public deliberations at 6:00 p.m.
If the council votes to oust Paul, he has said he'll sue.
The council has already retained attorneys to defend the impeachment, but the vigor of that defense is up in the air, since a newly elected council will be seated April 17th.
Three new council members were elected April 2nd - two of them are Paul supporters. The third hasn't made her position known. Paul opponents Matt Pirrello and Rose Acup will remain on the council, along with Linda Reel, who had voted against charging Paul in the first place.
Mayor Paul was elected in April 2012 after campaigning against tax increment financing for a development that includes a new Walmart store. The TIF was approved despite his opposition.
Mayor Pro Tem Matt Pirrello told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Paul's attorney had asked for the extra five days in order to prepare his defense.
The council had suspended Paul February 27 on charges that he violated the city's charter. Paul has maintained that the action stemmed from his vigorous opposition to a controversial tax increment financing for a Walmart development.
Three city council seats will be decided in the April 2nd election.
Also last night, the City Council rejected tax incentives for a second proposed development from Sansone Group. The developer had already won a TIF for a Walmart project.
They also asked for more tax-payer financing, but the Economic Development Commission rejected the plan.
Commission chairman Tom Weis says they were hoping for something more than another shopping center. Weis said they want something "tying in with the great streets concept; trying to build these little pods people can live in, work in, they can shop in."
Tax Increment Financing has been a hot-button issue in the West County suburb, even contributing to the suspension of Mayor Adam Paul, who opposed the Walmart TIF.
Paul says he believes his election was a referendum by Ellisville residents against using tax dollars for such projects. "I believe we started TIF reform in the region," Paul said. "For the developer to come back asking for more tax increment financing and more incentives is preposterous."
Paul won a legal victory at a hearing Monday, forcing the city council to turn over documents detailing communications regarding his impeachment. Paul's attorney says he still expects the council to remove the mayor from office on March 27, saying the votes are already lined up.
The City Council voted unanimously Wednesday evening to move forward with a litany of charges against the mayor that include disclosing confidential information and drinking on the job.
Dozens of residents had attended the special council meeting to show support for the Mayor, but it didn't sway the council.
A hearing was scheduled for March 20 to decide whether Paul should be permanently removed from office.
Mayor Paul has been at odds with most of the council over a controversial Walmart TIF since he was elected last April.
The 11 page resolution calling for Paul’s removal was drawn up by City Attorney Paul Martin after the council voted 5-2 for impeachment proceedings. Martin told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the mayor's improprieties began right after he took office last April.
That's also when Paul began officially fighting with most council members over a controversial Walmart TIF. The TIF passed, but is now tied up in court.
The impeachment drive follows an effort by some residents to get council members who'd supported the TIF recalled from office. That effort fell flat when a St. Louis County judge ruled that the city's recall provisions were unconstitutional.
If the council votes to adopt the impeachment resolution at Wednesday night's meeting, Paul would be suspended for 45 days, pending the outcome of an investigation.