The New Melle Planning and Zoning Commission met Tuesday, March 6, 2018 at City Hall. Present were Chairman Ken Birk, Mayor Richard West, and Commissioners Don Hendrich, Christi Riecke, and Rich Ropp.
In Open Forum, radio personality Erin Cox, Morning Show host known on air as "Cubbie" from 106.5 The Arch, quoted a "Money Pun" she had put together from 7-8 comments she had heard directly from local citizens, or obtained from a New Melle Moms FaceBook page, opposing the proposed Dollar General Store. Cox lives near New Melle, but is not technically in the city limits. She said she loves New Melle but is not a fan of the idea of a Dollar General coming to the community. The pun incorporated phrases such as the residents don't want change, would rather see "mom and pop" owned businesses, were concerned that the Dollar General will hurt Short Stops's Convenience Store, and also hurt "our hometown feel." She said the radio station directed her to ask the city's permission to air the comments. Mayor West said he didn't think she needed the city's permission to air them. Though there were a few questions, none of the commissioners expressed opposition.
Later in the meeting, Rodney Parrot, of Overland Engineering, LLC, West Plains, MO, presented a site plan for a Dollar General Store to be build at 4689 Hwy. Z, just south of the Ambulance Station. The plan had already been reviewed by Cochran Engineering. A number of issues were discussed including landscape buffers, parking, lighting and signage. The board members asked for upgrades to the exterior to make the appearance of the building more consistent with nearby commercial buildings. The commission recommended approving the Preliminary Plat, and also recommended approving the site plan pending compliance with various items discussed. The Board of Aldermen is expected to vote on the preliminary plat and the site plan at their March 20th meeting.
Editor's Comment: There are people in the community who do not want a Dollar General in New Melle. There are people who are looking forward to the store opening, and there are others who are neutral. The lot where Dollar General is planning to build is already zoned for retail commercial use. If Dollar General develops the site and builds the building in compliance with the city's existing rules and regulations for commercial properties, there is little the city can legally do to stop the store from being built. (That statement should not be interpreted to imply that the board is opposed to the idea. It is simply meant to explain that the personal opinions of the individual board members are not a factor.) From a property maintenance standpoint, the city has standards to which all properties are supposed to adhere. It is up to elected officials to see that those standards are enforced. When asked what prompted Dollar General to come to New Melle, Parrot said that the company chooses locations based on various criteria, such as traffic counts, demographics and other data.
Other items discussed at the meeting:
• An official agreement with Cochran Engineering regarding updating the city's Comprehensive Plan was reviewed and recommended for approval. The agreement sets a maximum expenditure of $15,000. A budget amendment is expected to be on the agenda for the next Board of Aldermen meeting. Clerk Hotfelder is working on providing some of the requested background and statistical information to the planning consultant.
• A few remaining items from the final site plan inspection of the Quarry Wine Garden were discussed. A meeting will be set up with the owners to discuss any unresolved issues.
• Attempts to contact the owners of a lot north of Maracas Restaurant to get debris removed from the property were unsuccessful. P&Z recommended that the matter be turned over to St. Charles County for Code Enforcement.
The meeting adjourned at 8:07 p.m.