Metro-East News

St. Clair County Board to weigh permit request from company that ignored zoning rules

A brick contracting company that employs 45 to 50 people operating north of Millstadt should have received violation notices and been shut down, according to the St. Clair County Building and Zoning Director.

But on Monday, the County Board is scheduled to vote on whether to grant a special-use permit to Toenjes Brick Contracting Company so it can continue to operate at its location on Forest Hill School Road.

The Zoning Board earlier this month recommended Toenjes’ petition be denied.

Daniel Toenjes, co-owner of the company, declined to comment before Monday’s meeting.

In 2001, Toenjes filed a petition with the county asking if it could run the brick company out of the location. The Zoning Board of Appeals initially had a tied vote, and Toenjes withdrew the application.

However, the company started to operate out of the location, without permission from the county, after closing its Belleville location in 2004.

During a meeting last week of the County Board’s Environment Committee, county Building and Zoning Director Anne Markezich said for 10 years there was no action taken, before she was in her position.

“He really should have been shut down when we were receiving other calls,” Markezich said. “He should have gotten ticketed and some type of violation to shut him down.”

According to Zoning Board meeting minutes, the Toejnes family moved into the home in August 2002, and has significantly improved the property since buying the property in 2001. The Toejnes family had moved their parents into the house and put the office there so the parents could be taken care of.

Markezich said the case was brought to the zoning board’s attention because of a complaint from Stookey Township Supervisor David Bone regarding the business.

Bone said he had received a complaint from a neighbor and forwarded it along to the county zoning department, because the township doesn’t handle zoning issues.

Bone said he did not know the business was operating until the complaint was made.

Company officials say only two people usually work at the office doing bidding, billing and paperwork. Most of the 45 to 50 employees, however, usually don’t show up at the Forest Hill School location and instead go straight to a job site.

According to Zoning Board minutes, Toenjes’ attorney, Ryan Mahoney, said the company thought there was a way they could have the business, while conforming to county rules. He added the business has evolved over the years.

Mahoney also said there has never been any citation received by the company, and county officials had been there in 2002 and did nothing.

None of the buildings on the property were built for this business. The location does store mixers, as well as scaffolding in a walled-off area, according to Zoning Board minutes.

There also are a handful of trucks, including two pickup trucks and flatbeds, a delivery truck and an old dump truck, kept on the site.

The county’s comprehensive plan calls the area to be used for agricultural preservation.

In the Zoning Board’s denial, board members criticized the Toenjes family for going forward with using the location for the business even though it knew it needed approval from the county.

According to Zoning Board minutes, County Board Member Larry Stammer, whose district includes the brick company, said he can support the petition from Toenjes, because he doesn’t believe there will be a significant effect on the area. The minutes say Stammer said he has driven to the site, and people wouldn’t even realize the business existed if they didn’t already know the business was located there.

Contact reporter Joseph Bustos at jbustos@bnd.com or 618-239-2451. Follow him on Twitter: @JoeBReporter.

To attend

What: St. Clair County Board

When: 7:30 p.m. Monday

Where: 10 Public Square Room B-564 in Belleville.

  Comments