O'Fallon Progress

O’Fallon considers shrinking special taxing district

Shrinking the Regency Park Business District boundaries is under consideration by the O’Fallon City Council.

The district includes the area along both sides of Regency Park Drive from Green Mount Road to the former bowling alley site, now Enjoy Church.

Established in 2009, an extra 1 percent sales tax was to be used to pay for the Special Service Area property tax bonds. The bonds were issued previously by the developer, not the city, for roadway construction and infrastructure for Regency Park development.

The sales tax increase was targeted particularly on food and beverages derived from the Hilton Hotel and Conference Center and another hotel planned for the adjacent vacant lot.

As the area developed out, it became clear most businesses, including the hospital, could develop without the need of the 1 percent incentive, City Administrator Walter Denton said.

The proposal would reduce the district to only the hotel and conference center, and the adjacent lot, which is still vacant.

State law requires that an amendment to a Special Business District ordinance needs to have a public hearing Aug. 7 to meet the Oct. 1 filing deadline with the Department of Revenue.

The council approved the emergency reading to set the public hearing date.

Denton told the council that normally an ordinance isn’t needed for public hearings, but they were advised that it was in this instance.

“This extra step was not anticipated,” he said.

The actual ordinances amending the boundaries and the redevelopment agreement with the developer and property owner will be presented at the Community Development Committee meeting July 24, to consider at the Aug. 7 and 21 council meetings on first and second readings.

Zoning change approved for animal shelter

In other action, the council approved a zoning amendment to establish Randy’s Rescue Retreat at 1400-1422 East Highway 50.

Rowena Horak of Stray Rescue of St. Louis sought approval to develop the former horse farm into a shelter for abused dogs and horses.

The rescue ranch would provide programs to benefit children, assist the disabled, PTSD programs for veterans and working to educate people on animal guardianship.

The ranch would have a maximum of 15 dogs staying at the ranch, including five dog cottages on the east side and 10 dog apartments within one of the existing barns. Abused horses would be cared for, too.

The organization intends to allow for adoption of both dogs and horses at the property.

There will be at least one caretaker or ranch-hand on the property all the time.

Additionally, the organization would create a welcome center where visitors and volunteers could come and learn about the ranch, provide an education center, a Stray Rescue museum and gift shop.

Zoning change approved for daycare

The council also approved a zoning amendment for Little Minds Learning Center at 1050 Eastgate Drive.

The property, formerly home to restaurants Amore and Schiappa’s, is being converted to a daycare by Nick Snyder. The facility will care for 80 to 85 children, ages 6 weeks to 6 years old, and support 13 full-time jobs and 8-10 part-time jobs. A 2,000-square-foot fenced-in playground will be added to the building’s east side.

Liquor license approved

Ainara Farina, owner of Los Gauchos Parrilla, 813 Seibert Road, received permission to add alcohol to the menu. She plans to serve wine and beef from countries like Argentina, Spain and Chile to complement the Argentinean/South American menu.

Other items

The council awarded a $292,000 bid to R&W Builders of O’Fallon to construct the restroom building at the O’Fallon Family Sports Park, part of Phase IV.

The ongoing development of existing and new subdivisions prompted a comprehensive review of stop signs in the city. To incorporate the additional streets, an ordinance amendment was approved. Some of the subdivisions affected were: Bethel Ridge Farms, Cobblestone Ridge, Milburn Estates, Reserves at Timber Ridge, Savannah Hills and Stone Briar.

The council approved contributing $7,500 to a schools consolidation study. O’Fallon school districts are determining whether consolidation should be pursued.

Miss O’Fallon Madeleine Henken received a standing ovation after her emotional speech highlighting her year being a part of O’Fallon activities. She is a college student at University of Mississippi.

Mayor for a Day Ellie Seibert, a sixth-grader at First Baptist Academy, said she enjoyed the experience. Her favorite part was riding in a fire truck and a police car. She had the crowd laughing over her description of a hit-and-run accident “right in front of us.”

The mayor will conduct office hours Saturday, July 22, from 10 a.m. to noon at City Hall.