Two men who own the one-acre property at 8676 U.S. Route 50, west of Lebanon, are looking to start a small outside-storage business on the site.
However, the St. Clair County Zoning Board of Appeals wants them to look into how much it would cost to connect to water and sewer service.
Thomas Williams and James Ford want to run a storage facility that would be able to handle about 20 boats and RVs. They are asking for a special-use permit from the county in order to the run the business on the one-acre lot zoned for agricultural/industrial use.
Most of the other businesses in the area have been annexed into the city of O’Fallon.
Ford said he and Williams bought the one-acre property as an investment, and thought they could help pay off the mortgage by having a small rental income by leasing space to people for storing their boats or RVs.
The lot is fenced, and customers would have a code to open a gate.
The two men would not have any employees on-site, they said.
Ford said it will be by appointment only to sign a rental contract, and there will be payment drop-boxes for monthly fees.
The property however does not have a connection to water and sewer service, even though surrounding properties do.
Williams and Ford said they did not have plans to connect to water and sewer service.
Williams said he would be willing to have a portable toilet on the site.
“But to run water and sewer, we’re looking at thousands and thousands of dollars,” Williams said.
However, the lack of water service has concerned zoning commissioners.
“Once we give you this, then all of a sudden you guys decide to bail out, somebody owns it and guess what? We’re stuck with a business that doesn’t have sewer and water,” Commissioner Kent Heberer said at a recent zoning hearing.
Williams said it would cost a lot of money to tie onto O’Fallon’s water and sewer system, and most of the time, no one will be there.
However, commissioners asked the two men to obtain an estimate of the actual cost of connecting to a water and sewer service, and to put together a site plan.
The idea of an outside storage facility worried at least one commissioner.
“I have issues with outside storage going bad. They get carried away,” said zoning Chairman George Meister.
“I’ve seen lots like this,” Meister added. “The person starts with 20, making $30 a month, and then if they could squeeze another 10 in there, he’s going to squeeze another 10 in there; and he’s going to start double-parking them.”
Commissioners are taking the proposal under advisement and are scheduled to consider the matter again in December.