By Ida Hoffmann-Randall
The July New Melle Board of Alderman meeting was called to order at 7:05 p.m. Roll call was taken, with all present, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
Mayor Rich West requested New Business, item one, be moved before open forum, since Art Genasci had also attended the Planning and Zoning meeting. The amended agenda was seconded, approved and passed 4-0-0.
The minutes of the June 12 meeting were approved, after a grammatical error on page three was adjusted, seconded and approved 4-0-0.
Nothing was presented in open forum.
Discussion began regarding the proposal for a Building Inspector and the presentation of a candidate for the position, which would facilitate Building Code Enforcement. West said that, despite some back and forth and candidates, there has still not been a contract offered. Art Genasci offered his biography and experience, including work with St. Louis County, Frontenac, Florissant, O’Fallon and St. Charles County and current certifications pertinent to the position. Upon questioning from Board members, Genasci said his position with the County was eliminated about a year and a half ago, and since then he and his wife have been operating and selling restaurants. He is also a consultant. He grew up in New Melle and still lives in the area, and still has a good relationship with the county. When asked by West how strong his desire was to take and maintain this position in a part time capacity, Genasci said he is looking for something to do until he retires in five years. Genasci asked what large hurdles or issues the city saw that the future Building Inspector would need to address. West said he sees slow expansion in front of the city, as will be addressed in the upcoming comprehensive plan, and that his main concern was hiring someone qualified who would be a good fit and willing to maintain the position for more than six months. West added that the current inspector became overburdened because he worked with so many other cities. West requested Genasci present his desired contract to the board for review, but what the city would offer would be similar to what Bob the current building inspector is working with. West said he would contact Genasci in the near future.
In the June Financial Statements, City Clerk Karen Hotfelder said auditors will be in the City July 11. She further explained that when there was a police department, money for transportation could be in the general fund. Now, it needs to be in a designated Transportation Account, resulting in the transfer of $23,000 to accommodate this change. In the future, the gasoline tax money needs to be moved and the state will be notified.
The Engineering Report addressed five separate issues.
The Dollar General plans will be left at City Hall for anyone who hopes to review them, and the company can proceed with construction.
The Quarry Wine Garden has requested sign approval and a boundary update, in addition to their earlier site plans. The boundary change request was received the day of the BOA meeting, andas such Cochran Engineering has not formally reviewed it. Kurt Cutter, City Engineer, said in regards to the site plan, the business’s lighting was up but the trash enclosure had not been build and was still outstanding. The site plan submitted would have seven comments total, four of which had already been stated.
The grant application for sidewalk extension project has been submitted, and has been opened to public comment. The board reiterated that all positive feedback helps; Hotfelder said the received letters from the school and library, as well as some residents.
The boundary adjustment for 902 Windy Meadow Court is complete.
Immaculate Heart of Mary has submitted plans requesting a cemetery addition. The plan indicates the church hopes to build a columbarium in three phases with over 170 additional gravesites added. Per Cutter, their plans have been reviewed by Cochran; the church will need to follow the conditional use plan by the city and note where gravestones will be, as well as submit a boundary survey and legal description.
Since the building inspector was not present, West announced that several items had been closed; other board members were given copies of the report.
Old Business addressed three items. In regards to the Comprehensive Plan, Planning and Zoning intends to meet with the Chamber of Commerce at a future meeting to review specific details.
The City of New Melle vs. Sullivan lawsuit is still in progress, said City Attorney Steve Martin. There will be another face-to-face meeting with a judge in a court setting in the future, but the date has not been set.
The St. Charles County Highway Department Report Review, which was tabled last month, was again discussed. Alderman Janet Karrenbrock asked if the city would get money from the county if the Board decides to take on the project. Alderman Don Hendrich indicated yes. West said the Board will need to develop estimates, one for a light, medium and heavy winter. Karrenbrock said she will work on developing this by the next meeting, using estimates based on Nicole Park’s past snow removal services. Planning and Zoning Chairman Ken Birk said the biggest expense would not be plowing, but salt used as a deicer. West reminded members a 30-day notice was needed to withdraw from the county plan.
In new business, the sign permit for the Quarry Wine Garden sign was described, then per planning and zoning’s approval, a motion was made, seconded and approved 5-0-0 allowing the sign.
Discussion of items three and eight regarding Code Enforcement were combined. Martin addressed his concerns with fines and liability, especially in relation to the relationship between New Melle and the County. Martin said the County will only enforce codes that are in alignment with their specific codes. For the most part, code enforcement currently aligns, in regards to maintenance codes, with the county and that it is rare, but possible for a city to prosecute for the violations that are not covered by the county, when ordinances do not exactly align.
West asked what methods, other than litigation, other small municipalities used, to address code enforcement and building code enforcement concerns, and still align with new state requirements. (Per Martin, the New Melle court was removed after the state imposed new court regulations that made it burdensome for the city to update to maintain said court.) Martin said he had been looking into this, and if New Melle could have a small municipal court for this specific purpose. While initial results indicated this would not be an option, it was eventually found that Augusta has this system. Martin, further indicated that they have found information from an outside organization that will outline how to establish this system, so now he thinks this might be a possibility. Research would continue to determine feasibility.
Genasci, who was still in attendance, said that many municipalities will allow the building inspector to write tickets which are all handled by a specific judge for violations. West said he would prefer a ticketing system, to suing for violations.
West reaffirmed that some remedy was needed, based on the costs for suing someone for a building code violation. He said the Board does not want to cause people grief, they just want them to align with the code. West also wants the new building inspector to feel like they actually have some power to enforce regulations.
The board then discussed if it was possible to have a shared court with other nearby communities; Martin indicated this was possible but rare. Wentzville does not currently have a cooperative/shared court program.
West said the entire issue needs to be explored further, and discussed at future meetings. Discussion ended as Martin indicated he would look into this further, especially the cooperative route, and that he wants to find an option that keeps the community safe, but also doesn’t make a financial burden to the city that exceeds what is brought in based on the fines and fees.
Items four and five, to approve paying application one and two to Southern Ditching for the Schutzen/Peter St. Drainage Repair Project, as well as item six, to approve final pay to Karrenbrock Construction for the Hwy Z/Hwy D Sidewalk Project as recommended by Cochran were moved, seconded and approved 4-0-0 and 3-0-1, with Karrenbrock abstaining from a vote on item six.
In regards to snow removal bids, Karrenbrock presented information based on area communities and requested that the Board review those for discussion at a future meeting.
Next was a discussion of the property owned by the city at the intersection of Foristell Road and Highway Z. West said the property behind it was not annexed into New Melle. Martin said that, if the property was vacated by the city, then it would go back to the attached property owner. Currently, the city is responsible for keeping it mowed. If it went to the property owners, they would be responsible for mowing. The city could annex in the property and then vacate it, but that would not ensure that the adjacent property owner would annex to the city. It was decided to discuss this more in-depth at a future meeting.
Lastly, West presented information on the University of Missouri’s First Impact program. He recently met with the director to learn about the 90-minute program that teaches both parents and new drivers about the dangers of texting and driving, and drinking and driving. This free program is sponsored by UM school of Medicine, the State Highway Department and State Farm. The program hopes New Melle will host one of these programs, with the possibility of reoccurrence if successful; there would be no cost to the city. Board members said they thought this was a good due to the nature of area roads, and so parents would not have to drive somewhere far away to gain this content. No objections were voiced. Karenbrock said she thought there should be a pre-registration process, so the proper venue could be chosen, or cancellation could occur if no one expressed interest.
The meeting adjourned at 7:58 p.m.