O'Fallon Progress

Attorney advises board can move forward on luxury apartment development despite lawsuit

Trustee questions whether board should move forward on luxury apartment development

Despite questions from Shiloh Trustee Bob Weilmuenster, village attorney Terry Bruckert advises board to move forward on The Savannah project stating it's "a policy question, not a legal one."
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Despite questions from Shiloh Trustee Bob Weilmuenster, village attorney Terry Bruckert advises board to move forward on The Savannah project stating it's "a policy question, not a legal one."

Upon recommendation made by village attorney, the Shiloh Board of Trustees took a final vote Monday in regards to The Savannah, a planned 311-unit luxury apartment complex.

Though one trustee expressed concerns over potential conflicts of interest and pending litigation, this time the vote was orderly and less confusing than at previous meetings on Sept. 5 and Oct. 23. However, in the end, the come was the same, with trustees approving the development along the same 4-2 lines a previous votes.

The latest vote was for an ordinance “ratify and restate actions taken by the village board authorizing” actions of rezoning and a special use permit for the 26-acre project created east of Cross Street at Tamarack Lane.

Before Monday’s vote, Trustee Bob Weilmuenster had two questions. The first was regarding a possible conflict of interest with Thouvenot, Wade & Moerchen, a Swansea civil engineering firm employed by both the village and The Savannah’s developer, Crevo Capital.

The Savannah graphic
An Impact Strategies contracting graphic concept plan for a new housing development titled “The Savannah,” is coming soon to the village of Shiloh off of Cross Street, just south of Memorial Hospital East in Shiloh, across the street from Tamarack Lane. The plan calls for a total of 311 units and amenities like a lake, boathouse, fitness trail, pool and clubhouse. Provided by Impact Strategies Courtesy graphic

“We have TWM as our engineers. They are also the engineers for this development. They are also the engineers for our street maintenance,” Weilmuenster said. “Is that a conflict of interest when they are getting paid on both ends of the spectrum from the village and the developer of this project?”

Shiloh Mayor Jim Vernier said it’s not out of the norm.

“TWM, that would occur for them quite often, because they do a lot of municipal work,” Vernier said.

Village attorney Terry Bruckert advised, “It doesn’t create a legal conflict of interest, because they’re not voting on it.”

Weilmuenster’s second question was in regard to a suit filed by Shiloh resident Charlotte Cox, of 1705 Cross St., in St. Clair County Circuit Court on Sept. 25 against the village. Cox is asking for declaratory judgment nullifying the village’s Sept. 5 vote on the development’s requests for rezoning and special use permit.

“Pending litigation on this, do we want to do anything until we find out what’s going on?” Weilmuenster said.

According to Bruckert, “That’s a policy question, not a legal one.”

“Just because there’s a piece of litigation going on doesn’t mean you have to stop what you’re doing,” Bruckert said.

He went on to explain, “If the court or somebody wanted us to stop what we were doing, they could go to the court and ask the judge for what’s called ‘a stay’ … A stay would keep a municipality or someone from moving forward with a particular project or function, but there’s no stay,” Bruckert said.

Absent a stay, Bruckert said the village is within its legal right to continue with the approval process of ordinances and board proceedings in relation to The Savannah development.

“Developers have a lot of money in these projects, and if the village is going to approve something, then it makes sense to keep moving it forward,” Bruckert said.

Weilmuenster and Trustee Greg O’Neil voted against the motion Monday, as they had done on previous occasions.

During the Sept. 5 meeting, Vernier broke two 3-3 tie votes among trustees giving final approval on The Savannah rezoning and special use permits. Prior to the mayor’s tie breaker vote, trustees changed votes and there was a series of confusing back-and-forth motions, counter and amended motions made and then reconsidered.

The Oct. 23 meeting was similar in complexity hinged on two goals. First, the village needed to create official paperwork for the county to update its zoning maps regarding The Savannah’s development project site. Secondly, the vote was meant to clear up any confusion over previous votes and village actions regarding the project itself ranging from the pre-application conference April 7 between village staff and developers to every other official village action to date.

In other business at Monday’s meeting, all other agenda items were passed unanimously.

Robyn L. Kirsch: 618-239-2690, @BND_RobynKirsch