Metro-East News

St. Clair County Board rejects Toenjes Brick Co. permit request; swears in new board member

New St. Clair County Board Member Lorraine Haywood was sworn in on Monday to represent the 25th District. Her term runs through December 2016. After being sworn in, Haywood was congratulated by her husband, James Haywood.
New St. Clair County Board Member Lorraine Haywood was sworn in on Monday to represent the 25th District. Her term runs through December 2016. After being sworn in, Haywood was congratulated by her husband, James Haywood.

In a 22-5 vote, the St. Clair County Board on Monday decided to deny a special use permit for the Toenjes Brick Contracting Company, which had been operating illegally along Forest Hill School Road north of Millstadt.

The county also agreed to give the company six months in order to move the business.

Earlier this month the St. Clair County Zoning Board of Appeals recommended denying the permit.

County Board members Fred Boch, Ed Cockrell, Michael O’Donnell, Larry Stammer and Robert Trentman voted against upholding the zoning board recommendation.

Stammer, whose district includes the business’ location, said he visited the site, and said he thinks Toenjes runs a clean operation, and disagreed with the zoning board’s recommendation.

“In my opinion, I do not see why granting that (permit) to allow them to continue doing business would affect their neighbors in anyway. If they were running a farm, it certainly would have a more adverse effect.”

Chairman Mark Kern said the zoning issue was unfortunate and it violated the county’s code.

“Zoning is an important thing,” Kern said. “If this (permit) were to be granted, I think it would emasculate much of our zoning code and we would have issues come up all the time … When you buy your house and you buy your property in a certain area of the county, that’s zoned that way, you’re assured of what’s going to be built next to you and what’s going to be there.”

The company began running its office out of the location, even though it didn’t have the required special use permit, after closing its Belleville location in 2004.

Before Monday’s vote, Toenjes attorney Ryan Mahoney said the recommendation from from the zoning board was improper and said the company was not an industrial operation.

“The use has been open and obvious. There is no evidence that this use has had any negative impact on any neighboring property,” Mahoney said. “No materials are stored on site, no work is performed on site. The general public doesn’t enter on a site. It has no greater impact than a normal operating farm would at such a location.”

Mahoney said the county was aware of the operation and said the property assessed value has increased due to the improvements made by the Toenjes family.

“Not only has the county received a substantial financial benefit from the operation of Toenjes brick at this location for year, but it has accepted tax payments and allowed Toenjes brick to continue operating at this location,” Mahoney said.

Other items

▪  A new District 25 board member: In an 18-8 vote, the board approved the appointment of Lorraine Haywood to complete the term of Curtis McCall Jr., who resigned after being elected mayor of Cahokia. Haywood, is the wife of James Haywood, who was initially recommended to be appointed to fill the vacancy, but was pulled last month after questions arose about his background, including absentee ballot fraud charges, which were eventually dropped.

On Monday, Boch, Cockrell, Frank Heiligenstein, Craig Hubbard, Nick Miller, Steve Reeb, David Tiedemann and John West voted against Lorainne Haywood’s appointment.

Kern said Lorraine Haywood will make a good addition to the board.

“I think we’ll all be impressed by her,” Kern said. “When she talked to us about being on the board she is absolutely engaged with the youth in the community.”

▪  Land purchase: The County Board approved buying 7.7 acres of land at 526 and 536 Maple St. in Shiloh for $550,000. The land is in the MidAmerica Airport Protection Zone. The purchase will take place after an environmental study and property survey.

During a finance committee meeting last week, Dan Maher, an administrative advisor, said the county having possession of the property helps protect Scott Air Force Base from possible noise complaints.

▪  Canteen Township voting precincts: Board members approved the to realignment and consolidation of 13 of the township’s voting precincts into eight precincts.

Under state law, voting precincts need to have between 500 and 800 registered voters. Some of the precincts that were realigned and consolidated had between 162 and 492 registered voters.

▪  Bunkum Road contract: County board members awarded a contract with Baxmeyer Construction Inc. out of Waterloo to carry out reconstruction of Bunkum Road for $5.76 million.

You said it

Jerry Williams last month had complained at the County Board meeting about flooding issues in his Shiloh neighborhood. On Monday, he and his wife, Diane, came to the county board meeting to thank the board for its assistance, and complemented the county’s help for getting sandbags to their neighborhood.

A survey company has been brought in to determine the cause of the flooding issues, Jerry Williams said.

“Once they find out, they’re going to resolve it,” he said.

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

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