Shiloh Mayor Jim Vernier broke two 3-3 tie votes among village trustees at their regular board meeting Tuesday, Sept. 5, to give final approval for a new $35 million luxury apartment development.
The Savannah will be a 311-unit apartment complex on a 26-acre site just south of Memorial Hospital East, across the street from Tamarack Lane. The development, which is being planned by the Edwardsville-based private equity firm Crevo Capital, will have multiple buildings, a club house with a pool, garages, a dog park, walking trails, community gardens and a recreational lake. Rent will range from about $1,200 per month for a one-bedroom to a maximum of $2,000 for a three-bedroom depending on amenities and unit selection.
The development has been a hot-button topic, with residents packing several previous hearings and committee meetings to voice concerns over traffic, safety and impact on schools, all of which they feared the development would adversely affect. More than 40 people showed up again to the Sept. 5 board meeting.
In a complex — and at times confusing — back-and-forth of motions, counter motions, amended motions, and motions to reconsider, the board voted numerous times on the project before Vernier cast his tie-breaking votes. In the end, the board approved switching the site from single-family to multi-family and also granted a special use permit — zoning requests developers needed in order to move forward.
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“What happened was so screwed up, and I think it was illegal,” said Trustee Bob Weilmuenster, the village’s Planning and Development chairman.
Weilmuenster made the first motion of the evening, which was to deny the project.
“It wasn’t right,” he said. “I motioned for denial, Greg (O’Neil) seconded it, and the vote was 4-2 for the denial.”
But it may have been Weilmuenster’s original motion — in which a “yes” vote actually meant denial — that started much of the confusion.
“To be honest and clear, I voted to deny because I thought we’d have the ability to bring up the motion again with changes,” said Trustee Kurt Burrelsman, who along with Weilmuenster, O’Neil and Trustee Tina Warchol made up the yes votes on the initial roll call, with trustees Colleen Powers and Mark Herrmann on the other side.
However, after much discussion ensued, it was Burrelsman who made a motion of his own to reconsider approval for the project.
That prompted village attorney Terry Bruckert to advise the board: “A vote ‘yes’ this time means you’re gonna reverse your previous decision, and a vote ‘no’ means you’re going to keep the previous decision. So we’re now confused.”
Burrelsman swung his vote to the opposing side during subsequent vote, leading to the first 3-3 tie, which Vernier broke.
“I’m going to say I wish we would always do things in the affirmative so we can avoid the confusion,” Bruckert said.
The board then had to vote again on the actual zoning changes that were requested. Again, the vote was 3-3 with Vernier as the tie-breaker for approval.
But not before the mayor offered several amendments for consideration. They included:
▪ Changing 335 apartment units to 311 to ensure warrants for a traffic signal are recognized;
▪ Six-foot fencing and screening on the rear and southeast sides abutting adjacent properties to protect and secure the residents who have concerns about their horses and other livestock nearby;
▪ Either prior to or when 100 units are occupied the intersection of Cross Street and Tamarack Lane is to be signalized and operational, pending St. Clair County approval;
▪ Construction traffic to exit and enter project site from Old O’Fallon Road;
▪ Public utilities (i.e. sewer) access added on Hideaway Hollow for current residents to access service; and
▪ Buildings on east be two-story, not three-story.
“Even though all of this is going to come up in future debates at the village hall, I wanna add these in right now for the comfort of some people in the audience,” Vernier said.
Weilmuenster asked Vernier why the he had not received the amendments prior to the meeting.
“I’m supposed to be the Planning and Development (chairman), and I didn’t get this until right now,” Weilmuenster said.
Vernier said he is not “withholding any information” and that he didn’t get the amendments “until right before the meeting.”
“Bob, I’m the chief executive officer of the village, and there was a request made to me, and I have the right or not to bring it to you. If I don’t want it on the table, I don’t have to put it on the table. That’s my right,” Vernier said.
When it was all over Weilmuenster, who was visibly frustrated with proceedings, questioned if the first vote to deny the project should have been the one legally recorded, referring to the village’s code of ordinances.
Village ordinance (151.347, section E1) states: “If a request for an amendment is denied by the village board, an amendment/rezoning request, on same parcel, by the same owner/applicant, will not be accepted by the village, for one year following the village board meeting at which the denial was made.”
“So then shouldn’t it have taken a year before they could bring it back, according to the ordinance?” Weilmuenster said.
In a less controversial move, the board voted down a different luxury apartment development. The Retreat at Shiloh was proposed by Indiana-based Watermark Residential, which wanted to build a $49 million, 276-unit on 21 acres near the intersection of Cross Street and Tamarack Drive. The proposal had failed during a committee vote on Aug. 28. However, Bruckert, the village attorney, said the board needed to vote on it again as a matter of procedure. The vote on The Retreat at Shiloh was 6-0 for denial.