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Ellisville Group Wants Officials Recalled Per Walmart

A group called the Ellisville Article 9 Alliance is seeking to have members of the Ellisville City Council recalled, alleging that support for a Walmart in town does not fairly represent the city's residents.

A group of Ellisville residents met Thursday with several goals related to a possible , including an effort to remove from office elected officials who support the project.

The group, called the Ellisville Article 9 Alliance, drew about 40 residents to , where they also discussed efforts to help approve state legislation that could impact whether Walmart is built in Ellisville, in addition to efforts to forbid the city's use of eminent domain.

"As you know, our elected leaders here in Ellisville are not listening to us regarding the Walmart TIF," group organizer Liz Schmidt said in reference to the related tax increment financing proposal. "So we're going to take matters into our own hands, and our city charter allows us to do that."

Under the proposal before the city council, a tax increment financing district would be created surrounding a Walmart Superstore, which would be . The TIF district would allow half of all newly generated sales tax revenue to be put in a fund under the control of the Sansone Group, the developer facilitating the project, which would require that funds generated by the TIF be spent on surrounding infrastructure.

(To keep up with the latest on the Ellisville Walmart tax proposal and more in Ellisville and Ballwin, sign up for our daily newsletter.)

Ellisville city staff estimated that the project would create an additional $500,000 annually for Ellisville's approximately $9 million yearly budget.

Resident Dan Duffy, an outspoken critic of the proposal, said he opposed the deal in large part because the designated area for the project could be rebuilt without a tax incentive for developers, he said.

“It’s probably the prime piece of real estate available in West (St. Louis) County right now, and there’s absolutely no reason to give the developers $16 million,” Duffy said. “There is no reason whatsoever.”

In addition to concerns that the TIF would decrease the amount of sales tax revenue for the city generated by a new business, residents and non-residents alike of Clarkchester Apartments, a residential complex situated within the project site, have criticized the city for its role displacing residents; tandem legislation before the council would establish a "relocation policy" for Ellisville, which would pay up to $1,000 per household to residents forced to move due to the development.

Move to Heed to County Objections
David Stokes of the Show-Me Institute, a non profit political think-tank, said state lawmakers are considering legislation which would make it more difficult for municipalities to create TIF districts if the county TIF commission does not endorse the project.

"So it would basically take away the ability of Ellisville to say 'yes' if the county TIF Commission said no … and our local leaders just ignored it,” Stokes said. “So that's a valuable bill.”

Schmidt said the proposal was unanimously approved in the state senate and is being considered in the House. Even if that proposal is approved, it would not take effect until late August, which could prevent future TIF districts locally whether or not Ellisville’s final votes on the issue take place before the August effective date.   

“So if this bill passes, it will save us grief on other projects,” Schmidt said, urging residents to contact local lawmakers seeking support for the legislation.

Recalling Elected Officials
After weeks of outcry about the project from residents, and with five of the city council’s seven members having indicated support for the TIF project, Schmidt said the alliance group will push to have members who support the TIF recalled from office. In following with procedure for a recall, Thursday included the formation of district committees, which will have to collect signatures equaling 15 percent of Ellisville’s registered voters base favoring the recall of particular council members in that district. If the signatures are successfully collected, the question of recalling an individual council member would appear on the ballot before voters at the next election.

Former Ellisville Mayor Ed O’Reilly was among the supporters in attendance Thursday night. O’Reilly said concerned residents must call the five city council members who supported the TIF proposal in preliminary votes and urge them to change their final vote, which could come as soon as Wednesday.

O’Reilly repeatedly took issue with claims by city council members that failing to bring Walmart to the city could result in new fees, the loss of services like leaf pickup or the to St. Louis County.

“The sky is not falling,” O’Reilly said of the city’s finances, which he said include enough reserve funds to sustain operations. “We’re in good shape.”

Resident Rights
Schmidt said the group also is organizing a petition for a “protect our homes” ordinance, which effectively would extend into actual law a resolution made by Ellisville’s 2005 City Council vowing not to use eminent domain against residential properties.

Schmidt acknowledged that if the anti-eminent domain petition is successful, it would not affect Clarkchester Apartments, which property owners have agreed to sell to the proposed developer, due to the nature of the property acquisition, in addition to the deal’s timing and zoning status. Such an ordinance could, however, prevent residents from being displaced by city business deals in the future, Schmidt said.

“That way, if you’re a homeowner or a renter, you can sleep at night knowing that by force of law, they can’t take residential property of any kind.”

Schmidt said it is not clear whether the will schedule final votes for the TIF legislation for next week’s agenda, but will proceed under the assumption that a vote next Wednesday is possible.

The Ellisville City Council is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday at .

Chase Castle April 27, 2012 at 02:03 PM
What are your thoughts on the potential for an actual recall?
Suzanne Gundlach April 27, 2012 at 07:04 PM
Chase, how would people get in touch with, or support this Alliance?
E. Schmidt April 27, 2012 at 09:05 PM
Suzanne, Contact me by clicking on my name E. Schmidt and leave me a note on THE BOARD on the right hand side of the page where it says >>> Leave a note for your neighbor.<<< I am assuming this feature works. or I will be at then next City Council meeting well before the 7 p.m. starting time on Wednesday, May 2nd very early to sign-up to speak, run through the metal detector and get a seat. I am assuming it is back at City Hall. There should be a big crowd. Perhaps it will be moved to the elementary school again. I will be wearing a sticker on my blouse/shirt that says A9A.
E. Schmidt April 28, 2012 at 02:15 PM
Suzanne, The group can now be reached at ellisvillea9a@yahoo.com
E. Schmidt April 28, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Community outcry is often followed by community action... Like in Arnold, MO Read below. You gotta love the header. October 07, 2009 Voters evict pro-eminent domain government in Arnold, Mo.! http://plf.typepad.com/plf/2009/10/voters-evict-proeminent-domain-government-in-arnold-mo.html Excerpt- >>>Voters in Arnold, Missouri, have thrown out of office the mayor and city council members who were behind the plan to seize PLF client Homer Tourkakis’ business and give the land to a private developer... ...… Meanwhile, voters have fought back. Knowing that their property could very well be next, they took to the ballot box, and evicted the mayor and city council members who promoted the eminent domain plan. This is similar to the case of Wright Gore, who managed to protect his family business from bureaucrats in Freeport, Texas, who had dreams of building a shopping center on his land. Voters in that city also tossed out the pro-condemnation bureaucrats. And voters in Riviera Beach, Florida, also tossed out city officials who tried to seize private property for development in direct violation of state law. (PLF represented those property owners, also.) <<<
E. Schmidt April 30, 2012 at 11:35 AM
Oddly, my link to the Arnold MO 2009 Voter Revolt disappeared along with my reply to Alexandra. Arnold voters took to the ballot box following a TIF project and cleaned house at City Hall. You gotta love the header on the article below. Arnold Voter Revolt -- October 07, 2009 Voters evict pro-eminent domain government in Arnold, Mo.! http://plf.typepad.com/plf/2009/10/voters-evict-proeminent-domain-government-in-arnold-mo.html If you read the entire article, you will see that this kind of municipal house cleaning is happening all over the country. Property owners can't fight the Threat of Eminent Domain under TIF through the courts anymore. They lose almost every time, so they are fighting it by voting out the people who approve the TIFs.
Alexandra May 03, 2012 at 04:46 AM
I hope this group is fired up now for the RECALL!

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