Mayor breaks tie; Belleville council OKs housing development

News-DemocratJuly 15, 2013 

— A Missouri-based developer is interested in building single-family rental homes "marketed to families of moderate income" in Belleville, but the city council was divided Monday night on allowing them to build.

Mayor Mark Eckert broke a 7-7 tie vote in support of the Gardner Development housing project.

The Springfield, Mo., developer needs a letter of support from Belleville as part of its application for state funding from the Illinois Housing Development Authority.

Gardner Development has worked on housing projects for the past 16 years in multiple states, including Missouri, but this will be the company's first Illinois development.

Aldermen who voted no were Melinda Hult, James Davidson, Joe Hayden, Paul Seibert, Trent Galetti, Joe Orlet and Lillian Schneider.

Those with yes votes were Michael Heisler, Ken Kinsella, Kent Randle, Gabby Rujawitz, Johnnie Anthony, Bob White and James Musgrove.

Aldermen Janet Schmidt and Phil Silsby were absent.

If the developer gets state funding, it plans to build 44 single family homes in the area of Carlyle Avenue and Potomac Drive. The project will provide rental housing for 15 years, and then the units will be available for home ownership.

Alderwoman-at-large Lillian Schneider and Ward 5 Alderman Joe Hayden both said the city already has enough rental property. Schneider added that she is worried about what would happen to the homes after 15 years when they become available for purchase and cannot be sold, resulting in empty homes and foreclosures. She said the property has known mine subsidence problems.

Ward 2 Alderwoman Melinda Hult said the lot sizes are under the minimum requirements.

Tammi Creason, a Gardner representative, told city leaders each three-bedroom home would leave a "footprint" of about 1,800 square feet.

Mayor Mark Eckert said the property was approved before the city changed its ordinance on lot sizes.

The city's decision Monday is the first step to see if the developers get state funding.

"This doesn't give them the green light to start building next week," Eckert said.

At least three St. Clair County residents living in bordering subdivisions spoke against the project. They said there are known mine subsidence issues and said most of the problems in their subdivisions come from rental properties.

The houses will be marketed to families with annual income between $29,100 and $48,180.

* The council approved a proposal for an in-home daycare at 300 S. Church St. submitted by Marie Werner. The house is currently zoned single family. About 20 people attended the meeting, with about 10 supporting the daycare and two against it.

Contact reporter Jacqueline Lee at jlee@bnd.com or 239-2655. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/BNDBelleville.

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