By Dianne Sudbrock
Wen Glidden contributed to this article.
The New Melle Board of Aldermen met Tuesday, June 9, 2020 for a regular meeting. The mayor, all four aldermen, the City Clerk, City Attorney, City Engineers, and a group of citizens attended.
In Open Forum:
Phil and Carla Brakensiek attended regarding their business property at 4591 Hwy Z. The Brakensieks inquired as to why they were not contacted as a general courtesy to be told their business was to be discussed on the May agenda. Mayor West replied the city doesn’t make a practice of contacting individuals on the agenda. In addition, Mayor West said “You were particularly on the agenda but we were not making a voting issue.” He said the conversation ended with a decision to send a letter.
Quoting the Boone Country Connection, Mr. Brakensiek disputed some of the statements made at the May meeting including the number of site plan revisions (the City reports 4, the Brakensieks report 2) that had been made since August 2019. Mr. Brakensiek also stated, “It seems like the bill [$3661.25 as of the May meeting] and hours being charged were a lot.” He said, “I’m aware that we changed the plans a couple times, and we’re not experts at this, but it seems like a lot of hours for reviews on a project of our size,” which he described as a small parking lot, a handicap ramp and a berm. He asked for a breakdown of the hours being charged.
The Brakensieks were told that they would be receiving a letter prior to the July aldermen meeting and if they needed to discuss matters further they should ask to be put on the July agenda. Mr. Brakensiek also tried to give a letter from his architect to Mayor West asking for copies of various documents and the estimated cost to provide those, but the letter was returned to Mr. Brakensiek by the Mayor stating he should bring it to the next meeting. “This is not the time and place,” said the Mayor.
When Mrs. Brakensiek later asked about being put on the agenda for July, Mayor West stated that she should wait until after the meeting stating, “Open forum was a time for audience to address the board with concerns they have and not a time for back and forth conversation.”
[Editor’s Note: On Friday, June 12, the Brakensieks received a letter from the city stating there was a total of $3,775 due for engineering charges and unpaid application fees. The Quarry Wine Garden was issued a similar letter for charges dating back to 2018 and beyond. See Old Business.]
Pete Schepis with the Greenwood Group agreed with the Brakensiek’s in that the courtesy of a notice should be given to those whose matters are discussed in meetings. He learned in the Boone Country Connection that Greenwood owes $875.00 in engineering fees in excess of the $500 deposit for a rezoning application that he has submitted. Schepis suggested the city provide a monthly statement to applicants listing the engineering costs their projects have incurred. He stated he thought the charges for his project also seemed high and that he felt the city should be responsible for some of those charges since P&Z approved his plan in December, then the Board of Aldermen sent it back to P&Z in January. Mayor West said The Greenwood Group would need to ask to be put on the official agenda in July for discussion.
The City Clerk said the official agenda has to be posted 24 hours before the meeting and that a personal notification to individuals being discussed is not required. The Boone County Connection stated that historically some City Clerks did notify people as a common courtesy if they were on the agenda. This topic will be added to the July agenda as well.
Mayor West announced he is hosting a July 4 Fireworks Display Celebration at New Melle Sports and Recreation. The event is open to the public. There will be food and refreshments available for purchase. The venue will open at 4pm. The fireworks show will begin at dusk.
In the Engineering Report: A motion passed to proceed with a formal survey from Cochran Engineering regarding the Mill St/Peter Road Project street improvement/storm water drainage project. Proceeding the motion there was a discussion of easements, water on the roads, existing storm structures, and the overall condition of both roads.
Building Inspection Report: St. Charles County has given access to the City Clerk to their online portal to view building inspection reports, which will show projects that are under review, approved, completed, etc.
• Sullivan Lawsuit: Courts to be fully open in a week. A hearing is scheduled for 6/19/20 per Attorney Martin.
• Property for sale Hwys. D and Z and Cell Tower: The City has received an offer from a firm that would like to acquire a perpetual, exclusive easement for the city’s cell tower in exchange for a lump sum payment. The offered amount was approximately $700,000. Attorney Steve Martin stated in essence, the City would give up rights to use property. Mayor West was concerned that if the tower is abandoned at some point in the future, would it be the city’s responsibility to tear down the tower? Attorney Martin will look into the question for the July meeting. The board has submitted an offer to purchase property at the corner of Hwys. D and Z contingent upon the sale of the cell tower.
• City Website Quotes: The board passed a motion for a one year contract to hire Direct Ads to redesign and manage the content of the current City of New Melle website. Other businesses that submitted proposals were Municipal Impact, Aspirational Solutions, and Tracker Designs.
• The Quarry Wine Garden: The city will mail an itemized letter explaining they need to get a business license and pay fees owed by the July meeting. The City Clerk will write a summons procedure ordinance for the July meeting that will be followed if this case is not resolved.
[Editor’s note: The Quarry Wine Garden recently submitted water retention figures which the wine garden owners thought was the last needed requirement in order to receive their business license. They have been operating without a City of New Melle business license since 2019. On Wednesday, June 17, the city issued a letter to the wine garden stating they owed the city $6,395.80. The letter listed engineering charges of $2,717.50 for a parking lot expansion, $3,465.00 for business license hearing, producing emails and pertinent information, researching codes, and making manuals” plus $213.30 for a sunshine law request from 2018.]
• The City of New Melle was not recommended for funding from the East/West Gateway but a motion passed for Cochran Engineering to submit an application for partnering with St. Charles County for an 80/20 split. A decision is to be made by the County in July. Total cost is estimated at approximately $2.8 million. The County’s share would be approximately $2.2 million and the city’s share would be approximately 560K. If approved, construction would not take place until 2023.
• Commercial Zoning: The New Melle Planning and Zoning Commission is suggesting that the city’s zoning ordinances be amended to allow conditional uses to be placed on any commercial property that abuts, is adjacent to, or contiguous with a residential property.
[Editor’s note: There is a public hearing on this matter tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, August 4, 2020 (NOT AUGUST 2 AS REPORTED IN THE PRINT ISSUE.) It might possibly be held at New Melle Sports and Recreation to accommodate social distancing. Watch the Boone Country Connection website and postings in the New Melle Post office to verify the date and time. Proponents say the ordinance change will further protect residential properties from potentially disruptive commercial activities. However, some owners of commercially zoned property in the city are concerned that the ability of the city to place additional, undefined and potentially unlimited conditions on properties on a case by case basis will make commercially zoned properties difficult to sell and more expensive to develop. Any new ordinance changes would not affect applications that have already been filed.]
• Brian Spencer, State Representative for District 63 since November 2012, was honored with a proclamation of appreciation that listed his many contributions to the district over the last eight years.
The July Board of Aldermen meeting will be Tuesday, July 14, 2020 – most likely at City Hall. The July Planning and Zoning meeting has been moved to Wednesday, July 15, 2020 and will most likely be at New Melle Sports and Recreation to accommodate the expected crowd. (The commercial property at 4577/4583 [(Greenwood Group] is expected to be on the agenda.) A public hearing for the conditional uses changes mentioned above is expected to be Tuesday, August 4, 2020 (NOT AUG. 2 AS REPORTED IN OUR PRINT EDITION.)