O'Fallon Progress

O’Fallon City Council tackles diverse menu of topics at most recent meeting

Tenants are expected to be announced soon for The Shops at Richland Creek, a $30 million project that has been endorsed by city staff and the O’Fallon City Council.

Preston Dial, vice president of acquisitions for the developer GBT Realty Corporation, said they were working on road improvement details first.

“We don’t want to announce anything before they are ironed out,” he said.

At Monday’s city council meeting, the preliminary plat was approved and so was an ordinance authorizing a redevelopment agreement with O’Fallon Investment Partners.

The council had previously approved three ordinances July 15: Planned use zoning, establishing and designating the Central Park/Green Mount Business District and approval of its plan, but the redevelopment agreement had been delayed.

Justin Randall, a city planner, informed the Community Development Committee at its July 22 meeting there were minor changes to the agreement, adding the definition of “trustee” and adding in the ordinance numbers from the recently approved Business District.

These changes did not require the ordinance to be amended and the council unanimously approved it Monday.

The developer will be allowed to collect up to an additional 1 percent sales tax within the development, which is an additional tax on retail goods above and beyond what is currently collected in the city. This is not a sales tax rebate.

The 17.23-acre mixed use development is located on the southwest corner of Green Mount Road and Central Park Drive and extends south to include frontage on Frank Scott Parkway.

The initial phase includes three buildings, totaling 17,800 square feet of retail and restaurant development on one lot. The remaining seven lots would be for various other retail, hospitality and service-type uses.

GBT Realty Corporation, based near Nashville, Tennessee, has specialized in retail developments since 1990 and is now the annual leader of net lease developments in the U.S. GBT has been involved with the development, construction, leasing and management of more than 37 million square feet of retail, valued at $7 billion.

Dial said the company targeted O’Fallon as a potential development because of its stability.

“We’ve had our eye on this area for a long time. It’s all about the timing,” he said after the meeting. “When you have high-quality education, low crime, new housing and businesses, it’s economically stable.”

The plans have been going through city channels since May. During this time, staff has recommended needed public infrastructure, including a public connector road and traffic signals.

A public street connecting Frank Scott Parkway to Central Park Drive, with a signalized intersection at both streets, is part of the plan, as are through and turn lanes.

The developer will also construct private drives to provide access to the other seven lots, including a right-in, right-out on Central Park Drive and cross-access to the retail strip center and the Bank of Edwardsville/Busey Bank lots along Green Mount Road.

The developer has worked together with surrounding property owners to address the cross access and site circulation.

Additional council action

In other action, the council approved the city’s part for state sidewalk improvement projects, Ameren easements and a new deal with Spectrum.

The Illinois Department of Transportation is planning sidewalk improvements along Hwy. 50 between Cambridge Boulevard and Seven Hills Road. The council OK’d a temporary construction easement to upgrade all the curb ramps to make them ADA compliant, including one adjacent to the Community Park.

More easements were approved for Ameren Illinois as well. Ameren wants to expand its right-of-way easement along its existing transmission line in order to prevent tress and vegetation from compromising its system.

Ameren will pay the city a total of $35,650 — $20,950 for the easement on the property with the fire station and park maintenance building and $14,700 for the easement on the undeveloped agricultural parcel.

The council renewed an agreement with Charter Communications for Spectrum Enterprise commercial fiber internet, ethernet and voice services for a 60-month term, and consolidated multiple agreements of existing services with the renewal.

Charter Spectrum has provided these services to the city since 2015. Prior to that time, voice and data services were provided by ATT via copper circuits and “plain old telephone service lines.” They switched to Spectrum for fiber-based services that offered higher bandwidth and lower cost.

Besides continuing necessary data services, this agreement includes relocating the main demarcation point to the Public Safety Building and an upgrade of Fire House 3 network connectivity from a coax Internet connection to a fiber Ethernet connection.

Before renewal discussions, the city reviewed other available providers and determined Spectrum remained the least expensive and most desirable option.

Current costs are $79,250 annually before fees and taxes. The new 60-month agreement is just less than $75,000 and saves an estimated $8,000 per year when compared with a new 36-month agreement. No construction costs are charged under the proposal.

Police Promotions

Police Chief Eric Van Hook announced three police officers had been promoted: Lt. Dave Matevey is now a captain; Sgt. Mike Mojzis is a lieutenant; and Bill Barlock went from patrol officer to sergeant.

They will all assume the duties associated with their new rank. Matevey has taken over the work Jim Cavins did as operations commander. A 29-year veteran, Cavins retired and became police chief in Town and Country, Missouri, in July.

Van Hook said he was grateful the transition would allow these men to become mentors and leaders.

The Board of Fire and Police Commissioners were on hand, after a ceremony at the Public Safety building. The commissioners recommend the appointments and promotions of all full-time police and fire officers based on merit.

Special Event Permits

For their second annual Brad and Mandy Titze Memorial Run on Saturday, Aug. 24, Amanda Schmitt of Mandy’s Bar was granted a special event permit.

The event will take place from 10-11 p.m., with the ride starting at noon and riders returning around 6 p.m. Barricades will be placed to ensure the safety of the riders on the parking lot and alley behind Mandy’s.

SuprTEK, which specializes in strategic management and planning and is located at 620 Pierce Blvd., was granted a special event permit to allow food trucks for employees on the parking lot from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday now through the end of the year.

Alternating food trucks includes Spud Shack, General Sherman’s Gourmet Hot Dogs, Pigs on a Wing, Truckeria Del Valle, Kona Ice and Abominable Snow Cones — which all hold mobile food vehicle vendor licenses with the city — and St. Louis Philly Wagon, which needs to obtain the license.

All food trucks will be required to get special event coupons from the Illinois Department of Revenue so the appropriate sales tax collected and remitted to the state is coded to O’Fallon as well as insuring they are remitting the 1 percent food and beverage tax to the city.

Alderman Christopher Monroe asked if there was some way the city staff could just approve special food truck vendor licenses without having to go through the council. Mayor Herb Roach explained they have not had that many, and wanted to see how many would actually come through the city so they could use that criteria for future evaluation and set a policy.

The O’Fallon City Fest and Parade was approved for a special event permit on Friday, Aug. 16, and Saturday, Aug. 17, at the Community Park. On Aug. 17, the car show and biathlon both begin at 8 a.m., and the parade starts at 5 p.m..

Jason Castillo of Peel Wood Fired Pizza & Brewery was approved for its O’Fallon Rizztoberfest from noon-6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5.

This year’s event expands on their Oktoberfest and is expected to be larger than previous ones, with an anticipated 1,500 to 2,000 people, so additional closures of First and Second streets are necessary.

The O’Fallon Police Department will coordinate the use of barricades, which will cost $20 per. Peel will be required to hire a minimum of two police officers, billed at the overtime rate not to exceed $65 an hour, with a minimum of four hours. The city will invoice Peel for the officers and the barricades.

Peel has discussed the event with residents on both streets. The set-up will start at 7 a.m. and the clean-up until 7:30 p.m.

The event will include food, beer and bands on Cherry Street, between First and Second streets and a portion of First Street. Bands will play music and there may be food trucks. They are working with radio station The Point (105.7 FM) regarding participation.

The labor hall has granted permission to use the grassy area on Cherry Street for tables and chairs for seating and dinning.

Additional parking has been arranged with St. Clare School and they will use other public parking lots around the area (city hall, city hall annex). A yard sign on State Street and other yard signs will direct traffic to alternative parking locations. Toilet facilities will be provided in the business and additional portable toilets will be available.

The O’Fallon Knights of Columbus were approved to conduct a roadblock from 7-9 a.m. and 4-6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4, as well as 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 5, at the intersections of State and Smiley and State and Lincoln for what is called their annual Tootsie Roll Drive, but is actually the organization’s Campaign for People with Intellectual Disabilities Fund. The council vote was 13-1, with Jerry Albrecht not in favor.

Tom Wiegert of the O’Fallon KCs, during public comments, explained the fraternal organization has been collecting funds for people with intellectual disabilities for more than 20 years during the roadblocks. They raise about $5,000, with half donated one day and the other half the next. They contribute to the Area 12 Special Olympics, SAVE and the Center for Autism.

“It’s a labor of love,” he said. “We do our best to make sure everyone’s safe. We have had no issues or incidents in the 20 years, not that I’m aware of.”

Public Safety Committee

Alderman Kevin Hagarty questioned adding Joshua Jenkins’ complaints to the Public Safety Committee agenda because the city has investigated them, as have an independent counsel and the Illinois Attorney General’s office, and the report conclusions are the same. He asked the mayor to explain what all had been done.

Jenkins, who has attended the council meetings for several months, first claimed May 6 during public comments the O’Fallon Police Department has misreported and misfiled his complaints.

Jenkins, who moved to O’Fallon in 2014, said he has witnessed unacceptable behavior of the police department during the past three years and was concerned with the lack of respect. He mentioned failing to file police reports and assaulting victims who were reporting crimes.

He has complained about a lack of action, inconsistencies, and that the city was trying to hide increased crime statistics. Jenkins also accused the city of preventing him access to use his freedom of expression on the city’s internet and social media platforms. He said there was a negative bias and they were oppressing his right to dissent. Jenkins has posted on city Facebook pages.

On Monday, the mayor listed what action the city has done. They have responded to his numerous Freedom of Information Act requests, at least 10. They have taken calls and responded to emails. Deputy City Clerk Maryanne Schrader put information on a thumb drive for him.

“Joshua Jenkins has used his right to speak at the council and Town Hall meetings. We have had a conference call with him, the chief and the city administrator, and a meeting with him and his father-in-law,” Roach said. “We have given him hundreds of pages of documents ... The staff was more than willing to respond ... We have spent about $10,000 in legal fees.”

The city attorney investigated and found no wrongdoing or illegal acts by the police department and even hand-delivered a five-page letter documenting the case. The city hired an outside counsel who came to the same conclusion.

Additionally, the city gave Jenkins phone numbers of the attorney general, Illinois State Police, FBI and St. Clair County State’s Attorney’s office if he had further concerns.

He disagreed with the findings, and sent complaints to the attorney general’s office, which recently responded with a letter, saying they had closed two of his requests.

Attorney Todd Fleming stated Jenkins “had every right to address the council during the two allotted portions of every meeting.”

City Clerk Jerry Mouser said Schrader had spent hours on the volumes of paperwork requested.

“She has gone above and beyond,” he said.

The mayor said at this time, they felt it would be counterproductive to put any more resources into the matter.

Mayor’s Report

During his mayor’s report, Roach expressed his appreciation to the council and the 40 citizens who attended the Committee of the Whole meeting July 29.

Roach announced soccer field No. 1 at the Family Sports Park would be dedicated to former O’Fallon Mayor Gary Graham on Thursday, Aug. 29, “for all of his work on behalf of the city parks.” The time is not set yet, but Mary Jeanne Hutchison said it would be either 5 or 5:30 p.m. and that Graham would be there.

The mayor will conduct evening hours from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 21.