O'Fallon Progress

O’Fallon City Council presses on with controversial liquor store rezoning plans

The O’Fallon City Council narrowly advanced controversial rezoning plans for a proposed package liquor store at the corner of U.S. Highway 50 and Old Collinsville Road at its meeting Monday.

Several residents and adjacent business owners opposed to another business selling alcohol on that intersection addressed the council. A petition signed by residents of a neighboring subdivision and the area was presented.

The intersection has a Huck’s convenience store on the west and the shuttered Dandy Inn property on the south will become a Moto-Mart plaza. To the north are residential homes and to the east are Bollmeier Dental and Four Paws Animal Hospital.

The zoning amendment to allow Mirage Wine and Spirits at 2020 West Highway 50 will be up for final approval March 18.

Applicant Davuthan Kilic, representing Mirage Liquor and Tobacco LLC, requested a planned use approval to operate a 2,400 square foot package liquor store in the existing building, currently zoned B-1, community business district, for a planned community business district.

Creve Coeur Camera had been there but moved to Green Mount Crossing in Shiloh in mid-August last year. Prior to that business, a 7-Eleven convenience store operated at that location.

Kilic has proposed improvements, including site landscaping, to the existing monument sign, wall signage, and a walk-in cooler. The hours of operation will be Sunday-Wednesday: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Thursday-Saturday: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

There will be no on-site consumption. This is consistent with a Class “C-1” Off Premise Liquor License, Assistant City Planner Justin Randall said in his report.

No video gaming will be allowed because it isn’t a pour license.

First reading passed on an 8-5 vote, with Aldermen Ross Rosenberg, John Distler, Kevin Hagarty, Matthew Gilreath, Mark Morton, Ray Holden, David Cozad and Dan Witt voting in favor and Jerry Albrecht, Robert Kueker, John Drolet, Gwendolyn Randolph and Ned Drolet opposed. Alderman Christopher Monroe was absent.

Drs. James Bollmeier, Anne Bollmeier and Jim Bollmeier, who own and work at the nearby businesses Bollmeier Dental and Four Paws Animal Hospital, expressed concern for safety.

Dr. James Jessen, a veterinarian, had also submitted a letter citing opposition and research. He worried about the property values and perception. He said that their long-term reputable business had attracted thousands of patients over the years, including 1,500 new customers last year. They were worried about robberies.

Dr. Anne Bollmeier, who works as a dentist in her mother Ellen’s 40-year-old dental practice, cited statistics about alcohol establishments in neighborhoods that saw a rise in crime.

She said she wanted O’Fallon to “stay the great place it is,” and did not want to see that area go “the wrong way.”

With Huck’s on one side and the proposed Moto-Mart on the other, she said there were already establishments that sold alcohol. That opinion was expressed by other members of her family and residents.

Ruth Cochran, who lives on Old Collinsville Road in Fairview Heights, said she was one of the 128 signatures on a petition presented to the city. She said she is not opposed to entrepreneurs and business but was against the site plan.

“We think there is a better location — better for him and better for us,” she said.

Dr. Ellen Bollmeier said she thought there will be more accidents at the intersection and in the area because of increased traffic.

Dr. James Bollmeier, a veterinarian for 43 years, said there was no villain here, and he wanted people to use common sense.

In previously addressing aldermen in committees, the Bollmeiers had previously pointed out trash and debris behind their buildings, and problems with people drinking on the properties after trips to the convenience store.

Alderman Gwen Randolph, who represents Ward 5, said she was opposed to the business and read alcohol statistics from the Department of Human and Health Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“I do not to have a liquor store in my community,” she said.

Alderman Matthew Gilreath said he thought there was good discussion on the topic, but that the business met the city requirements and having an empty building was worse. He said vacant properties can also lead to more crime and other problems.

He also disagreed with the description of that part of town.

“That end of town people work hard. That end of town is thriving and beautiful,” he said.

Alderman John Drolet said he was initially for the project but then after listening to people, he said he would vote against it.

Property owner Brad McMillin said the owner was making the place into a higher-end business.

“He is going to have special wines and unique items,” he said.

He said he recognized the Bollmeiers’ concerns but didn’t want people making assumptions.

He said the owner was increasing the lighting to LED and planned to make it aesthetically pleasing. He was also considering asking the police if they wanted to have a substation there.

“He is more than willing to work with the city,” McMillin said.

When asked, Police Chief Eric Van Hook said that there was not an increase of crime in that area.

“We have not had a problem with package liquor establishments,” he said.

In a 3-4 vote, the Planning Commission had rejected the staff recommendation on the proposal at their Feb. 12 meeting.

When the Community Development Committee reviewed the plans Feb. 25, they moved it forward 5-0 to the council with an added condition: Fencing to be provided along the property line between 2020 W. Highway 50 and 2010 W. Highway 50.

The ordinance will go back for review to the CDC and then up for council approval March 18.