Shiloh resident Allison Cugier isn’t pleased with a development proposed for the entrance to her neighborhood, an opinion she plans to express next week when the village considers a zoning change to accommodate a self-storage facility.
The Villages at Wingate website advertises retail shopping and professional office space at the neighborhood at Carlyle Avenue off Green Mount Road. The properties at the entrance to the neighborhood are zoned for business and retail.
But so far, Cugier says, there is no retail or office space. Next week, the village will consider a zoning change to the 7.8 acres of land at 200 N. Green Mount Road from business to light industrial. The applicant, U-Haul Center of Missouri Northeast, hopes to build a self-storage climate controlled U-Haul facility there with a roughly 45,500 square-foot footprint. Amerco Real Estate, an Arizona-based company that provides real estate and development services to the U-Haul, is also listed as an applicant.
That’s not exactly the type of business Cugier says she was hoping for. The proposed development includes a two-story self-storage facility, showroom, recreational vehicle parking, and auto and truck rental. There would be three RV canopies and parking for 49 RVs, according to the initial proposal.
“We are beyond upset,” Cugier said. “This would be located right near the train tracks in an area that was promised for little businesses and shops.”
Other undeveloped lots near the entrance to the Wingate neighborhood would still be zoned for retail or residential if the proposal is approved.
While Cugier acknowledges retail would bring just as much traffic, she worries about potential crime and light pollution from a 24-hour access facility.
“It will need to be lit up like a football field if it’s not going to get broken into,” Cugier said.
Michael White, marketing president for U-Haul’s northeast Missouri division, said his company is aware of residents’ concerns, but said U-Haul would bring benefits to the community.
“We’re really excited to be part of the community there, and I believe that we will provide a lot more good than what the immediate residents are aware of. We’re going to be very cognizant of our neighbors,” White said. “We’re concerned about this from their perspective also because they are residents and they have houses right there.”
The facility would bring upwards of 20 jobs once it’s fully operational, White said. The storage building would be a single large building with individual storage units inside. Customers would have to have an access code and card to enter. Security cameras would be placed at each entrance and around the property. The RV parking lot would be hidden from view from Green Mount Road by the storage building and from the neighborhood by tall, densely growing trees, which would also block light, White said.
The facility would also fill a gap in services in the region, White added. At least one nearby climate controlled self-storage facility has a wait-list, White said.
“Right now there is nothing like this in the St. Louis-metropolitan area,” White said. “And it will be priced in a manner that someone with an old piece of junk won’t be willing to pay the prices we will charge to park their vehicle there.”
The village would have to approve a special-use permit in addition to the zoning change. The Shiloh Planning Commission will consider the application at their 6:30 p.m. meeting Nov. 13 at the Shiloh Municipal Building, located at 1 Park Dr.
Mayor James Vernier declined to comment for this story, deferring to the Planning Commission to make a recommendation to the village board. Municipalities are required by law to consider applications for zoning changes submitted by developers, even if there is public opposition.
As of Wednesday morning, more than 140 individuals have signed an online petition against the development, though several petitioners were not from Shiloh.
The Planning Commission nixed a proposed gas station near the entrance to the neighborhood in March 2016.
At least one promise for Wingate has come true, Cugier says. Wingate Elementary School opened in August 2015.
The Mascoutah School District general fund covers $2 million annual payments on $26 million in bonds for the school, which is located in Shiloh on the western boundary of the district.
Certainly the business part of it has not developed out as we would have hoped it would to provide more TIF revenue.
Mascoutah School District Superintendent Craig Fiegel
A tax increment financing district at Wingate would ideally generate enough revenue to make the annual bond payment, says Mascoutah School District Superintendent Craig Fiegel.
The Wingate TIF district, known as “TIF C,” was established in May 2007. Over the more than 10 years since it was established, the district has accumulated $1,433,255, according to records from the Illinois Comptroller’s office, though revenues continue to increase year-over-year. It generated $291,421 in fiscal year 2014, $362,603 in 2015 and $476,602 in 2016.
The school’s portion of that revenue is not nearly enough to cover the $2 million annual payment the school district was hoping for, the superintendent said.
“Certainly the business part of it has not developed out as we would have hoped it would to provide more TIF revenue,” Fiegel said. “The housing or residential part I think has grown pretty steadily, but not the business portion.”
School district leaders are “not panicking at this point,” Fiegel said. The district continues to make payments on the bonds, but officials “still hope to see most of that money recovered,” the superintendent added.
“The business portion does need to grow,” Fiegel said.
TIF districts expire after 23 years, but can expire earlier if all financial obligations are fulfilled, according to the Illinois Tax Increment Association.
First Clover Leaf Bank is listed in St. Clair County records as the owner of the property where the U-Haul Facility would be located. Formerly Edwardsville-based First Clover Leaf merged with First Mid-Illinois Bank and Trust this year, according to the First Mid’s website. The property now belongs to First-Mid, said bank spokeswoman Laura ZuHone.
First Clover Leaf bought the property in 2012 when the deed was conveyed to the bank from Shiloh Wingate, LLC., the neighborhood’s original developer. Ownership was transferred in a “deed in lieu of foreclosure” transaction, which is used when an owner is burdened by mortgage payments, according to the Dickson Law Group.
Other properties zoned for business near the entrance to Wingate are owned by TBM Development, LLC, a company managed by Roland Thouvenot, president of Thouvenot, Wade and Moerchen, Inc., the civil engineering firm for Wingate.
Thouvenot was not immediately available for comment, but Marsha Maller, a civil engineer with Thouvenot, Wade and Moerchen, said the TBM group is still hoping to attract retail development to their properties.
“There is the potential for retail there. There just hasn’t been any activity,” Maller said. “We’ll hope that there will be restaurants or something, that would be nice.”