Ellisville Ups Security With Walmart-TIF Issue Afoot; Final Votes Set for April
Ellisville Police Chief Tom Felgate said the decision to use a metal detector at Wednesday night's council meeting was only a precautionary measure. City council members, meanwhile, agreed to push back final votes for a proposed redevelopment.
Instead, visitors were greeted with increased security and the message from Mayor Matt Pirrello that the council's decision regarding the requested TIF district would be delayed until next month.
Pirrello said an attorney on behalf of Sansone Group, the developer facilitating the project, contacted the City in a memo Tuesday requesting "substantial change" to the proposed ordinance. Pirrello declined to describe the request, citing "contract negotations" as the reason the council met in a closed session where council members were first told of the requested change.
Pirrello previously said the TIF issue would receive a final decision this week.
"It's as big a surprise to me as it is to you," Pirrello told reporters after Wednesday's meeting.
The proposal for the requested TIF or Tax Increment Financing district would allow the Sansone Group to access half of all new sales tax revenues generated at the site, with the stipulation that the revenues be applied to infrastructure improvements for the surrounding area located southwest of Manchester and Kiefer Creek roads. City estimates predict the TIF project would annually generate about $500,000 in sales revenue for the city while providing a multi-million dollar incentive package for developers.
In addition to objections by people specifically opposed to Walmart, non-residents and residents of Ellisville's Clarkchester Apartments alike also have spoken out against the project; along with Westgate Animal Hospital, Valvoline and LC Auto Service, the adjacent 100-unit complex of Clarkchester Apartments falls within the slated redevelopment territory. Ellisville city staff have stated that under Missouri state law, the property containing Clarkchester Apartments could be seized through eminent domain.
“And this is a volatile issue, obviously, when you're talking about people getting displaced," Ellisville Police Chief Tom Felgate said.
In light of events like the 2008 city council shooting in Kirkwood that resulted in six fatalities, Felgate said, he decided to take extra security measures at Wednesday night's meeting. That included additional officers on site as well as a metal detector used to survey incoming visitors, who occupied all 76 seats in the city's meeting chamber.
"We knew there was going to be a big crowd, and we don't know who's going to walk in," Felgate said.
"Believe me, I never felt for a moment that there was going to be a problem," Felgate added. "I just felt it was necessary to err on the side of caution."
A vote on the TIF has been tentatively scheduled for the council's April 4 meeting. Municipal elections are April 3.