New Melle Board of Aldermen – City Will Consider Revoking Licenses for Quarry Wine Garden – Hearing Set for November 13

By Dianne Sudbrock

UPDATED 11/07/18 WITH NEW HEARING DATE - Nov. 13th: The New Melle Board of Aldermen met Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018 at City Hall. All the aldermen, the mayor, city clerk, city attorney, city engineer and planning and zoning chairperson were present.

Near the end of the meeting, under New Business, the mayor suggested that a vote to approve a site plan for an expanded parking lot for the Quarry Wine Garden be tabled. Instead the mayor suggested the city consider revoking the business license and liquor license for the Quarry Wine Garden due to noncompliance with city ordinances.

Among the noncompliant issues that the mayor mentioned were: failure to construct a trash enclosure which has been an ongoing issue for many months; failing to submit a site plan for an expanded parking lot that included some sort of water detention accommodations; and constructing the expanded parking before having the proper site plan approval.

According to city records: On October 2nd, the New Melle Board of Adjustment met to consider two variance requests: one to allow the Quarry Wine Garden to construct a gravel parking lot, and one to relieve the Quarry Wine Garden from complying with the city's water detention requirements. The city engineers had previously determined that some sort of water detention arrangements should be made. Their suggestion was that a ditch or swale be built to direct any run-off into the adjacent lake. Joe Nusrala, owner of the Quarry Wine Garden, argued that water detention was not necessary due to the water soaking into the ground through the gravel and any additional water would drain into the creek. He asked for relief from the water detention requirements. Five members of the Grapenthin family attended the Board of Adjustment meeting, stating that water runoff from the quarry had eroded their farmland on the opposite side of the creek. Nusrala said he had owned the property for seven years, that it had never flooded, and that he believes any erosion to the Grapenthin property was created by the natural flow of the creek and not specifically from the quarry.

Ultimately, the Board of Adjustment approved the variance for the gravel surface, but denied the variance that would have allowed the lot to be built without any water detention accommodations.

At the Board of Aldermen meeting on Oct. 9th, Nusrala stated he believed the approval of the variance for gravel by the Board of Adjustment on Oct. 2nd gave him the right to go ahead and put gravel on the expanded lot. The mayor contended Nusrala did not have approval because he had not submitted a site plan that complied with city ordinances (i.e. one that included water detention.)

A date for a hearing on the business license and liquor license revocations has since been scheduled for October 23, 2018, then later rescheduled for November 13, 2018 at 6 p.m. at City Hall. The Quarry Wine Garden will be allowed to continue operating until the hearing is held.

Other highlights from the meeting are as follows.

Open forum:

  • P&Z Commissioner Ken Birk, suggested switching the November P&Z meeting from Nov. 6th, election day, to a different day – possibly Nov. 13th. The city clerk will check with the other commissioners for availability.
  • Birk also reported that Dollar General was in the process of putting a brick front on the building and upgrading the siding to a stucco finish, and that he was told stocking of the store was scheduled for Oct. 22nd.

The financial reports were reviewed. Clerk Hotfelder expected the accountant to work on the 3rd quarter reports and 2019 budget preparations within the next week or so.

In the Engineering Report the bids for snow removal had been advertised and were due to be opened October 23, 2018.            

Six bills were approved and signed into ordinances: Bill #427 clarified how the total "Sign area" should be calculated in the City's Sign Ordinances; Bill #428 – added section 405.857, "General Sign Requirements" to the city's sign ordinance. It covers such things as structural requirements, safety, maintenance, abandonment, illumination, architectural appearance, etc.

Bill 429 granted a variance to the Quarry Wine Garden to install a gravel parking lot – effective upon approval by the Board of Alderman.           Bill 432 approved a record plat consolidating two parcels at the Quarry Wine Garden into one parcel and rezoning the entire property to C3-Highway Commercial. [This was required so that the expanded parking lot did not extend into the Agriculturally zoned portion of the property.]

Bill 430 approved a record plat for the Dollar General Store.

Bill 431 granted a conditional use to Immaculate Heart of Mary Church to allow a 3-phase cremation garden with three columbariums plus 174 regular grave sites.

Old Business:

  • Thirty-eight people attended a public meeting to discuss ideas for New Melle's Comprehensive Plan. Birk reported that the city does not yet have a summary of that meeting from Todd Streiler, Streiler Planning, LLC; and said Streiler does not anticipate that the plan will be completed by year end. Birk is hoping for first quarter 2019.
  • City of New Melle vs. Sullivan et al lawsuit: Attorney Martin said he is currently trying to get a trial date scheduled.
  • Mayor West gave a synopsis of the activities surrounding the visitors from Germany and the 30th Anniversary of the Sister City Partnership. He said he learned a lot of history, enjoyed meeting several new people – both from here and from Germany. He and Alderman Bradley attended a dinner and reception at the Quarry Wine Garden on Sept. 14th. On Saturday the visitors when sight-seeing to Grafton, IL. On Sunday, Sept. 16th, a tree was dedicated at St. Paul's Lutheran Church, followed by brunch in the church hall. The guests also visited City Hall and took pictures by the Immigrant Statue. Sunday evening there was a celebration dinner at St. John's United Church of Christ - Cappeln that included the official exchange of proclamations.

New Business:

  • A sign permit for Dollar General was approved.
  • A site plan for the Quarry Wine Garden (with contingencies recommended by Planning and Zoning) was tabled. Instead, as stated above, there will be a hearing [on November 13, 2018 at 6 p.m.] to discuss suspending the business license and liquor license for the Quarry Wine Garden due to alleged noncompliance with certain city ordinances. The Quarry Wine Garden will be allowed to continue operating until the hearing is held.
  • Clerk Hotfelder stated she had been attending planning meetings for New Melle Country Christmas (Nov. 24th, 4 p.m. at NMSR) and that the community was rallying around the event and plans were coming along nicely.
  • Mayor West suggested the city look into getting signs at the entrances to New Melle. He would like the signs to include a slogan, such as "Gateway to Wine Country." It was pointed that that the Defiance may already be using that slogan. Attorney Martin will investigate.

A work session and special meeting was scheduled for October 23rd at 7 p.m. to review snow removal bids and make a hiring decision regarding a new city clerk. The Quarry Wine Garden hearing was later scheduled for this same date, starting at 6 p.m.