Pirrello: Walmart Ruling Clears Way for Economic Development
A St. Louis Circuit Court judge recently rejected a lawsuit aimed at halting a Walmart development, claiming that the city had made missteps in approving a conditional use permit for the project.
With a ruling rejecting a lawsuit to block the construction of Walmart in Ellisville, some supporters of the development are saying the way is cleared for further economic growth in the city.
"I was elated," said Matt Pirrello, a council member and former mayor. "This is going to be the impetus of an entire redevelopment program throughout the city."
Specifically, Pirrello said he is aware of three contingent contracts that were hinging on the Walmart development going in. He characterized the entire development community as waiting to find out what the results of the lawsuit brought by city resident Thomas Debold would be.
That lawsuit alleged the city had been made missteps in approving a conditional use permit for the Walmart, which will be located near the Manchester Road and Kiefer Creek intersection.
Pirrello also anticipates that the ruling in favor of the city will spur interest in a second development project on an adjacent property to the east of the Walmart site that runs all the way to the intersection.
The city has already issued a "request for proposal" from developers, but had yet to receive any response. With the Walmart ruling behind them, Pirrello said he hopes that will change.
A Community Divided
The process of bringing a Walmart to Ellisville several years ago has produced deep rifts in the community, regularly producing packed meetings filled with those who protested against the corporation and the use of public financings through a TIF to fund the project.
Pirrello hopes the lawsuit ruling can help bring some measure of closure to the heated debate over the development by allowing the community to move on.
However, he acknowledged that the best way to convince skeptics is economics. Supporters of the project believe it will bring increased sales tax revenue and further growth, thereby allowing the city to maintain what Pirrello said is a high level of amenities.
"The fact of the matter is, it’s over, it’s done and we need to move on," he said. "The voters are unhappy with how things have gone, and I think it’s an opportunity for a fractured community to start coming together and be a strong community."
Achieving that healing may not be so easy as the city’s politics remain divisive. Ellisville’s current Mayor Adam Paul, a fierce Walmart opponent who was elected in the spring, is currently facing possible removal from office over charges that he violated the city’s charter on a number of occasions.
The back-and-forth between the mayor and the city council -- with accusations, recall efforts and lawsuits flying -- prompted the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to declare the two sides at "war" in a front-page headline Tuesday.
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- Update: Ellisville City Council Proposes Resolution to Remove Mayor from Office
- Charter Commission Recommends Dismissal of Impeachment Claims Against Ellisville Mayor
- Mayor Paul Hires Lawyer, Calls Impeachment Claim 'Frivolous'