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Ellisville Council Approves Tax Incentives for Walmart

Mayor Adam Paul reprimanded fellow city council members for approving the Walmart project immediately after voting late Wednesday.

The Ellisville City Council narrowly approved , as well as a relocation policy compensating residents to be displaced by the development, at a heavily attended city council meeting late Wednesday.

The proposals were approved 5 votes to 2, with Mayor Adam Paul and Councilmember Michelle Murray dissenting. The five votes in favor of the project fulfilled the minimum number required after the city’s TIF commission in March for the project.

Paul, who was elected in April after a campaign centered around opposition to the then-proposed Walmart, reprimanded his fellow council members immediately after their supporting votes.

"For you all not to listen to the people who put you in office is wrong," Paul said. "Shame on you."

One of the proposals approved Wednesday creates a tax increment financing or TIF district at the Walmart site, . The TIF district will allow half of all newly generated sales tax there to be placed in a fund under the control of the developer earmarked for infrastructure improvements to the surrounding area.

Charles Pavlack, a member of Ellisville’s as well as the city’s TIF Commission, took issue with statements by Paul and residents that council members needed to oppose the project on behalf of constituents.

“This is not a democracy,” Pavlack said. “It’s a representative republic. We elect you to guide our city, not to do our bidding.”

Pavlack also refuted repeated statements by residents at Wednesday’s meeting arguing that most of the city’s residents opposed the project.

“We seem to need a statistics course, because everybody keeps talking about how the majority of Ellisville has spoken, and they haven’t,” Pavlack said following multiple city council meetings and wherein residents have objected to the project.

“It’s a common political truism that more people talk against things more than they do in favor, so the fact that there are more people here talking against than there are talking in favor does not mean the majority of Ellisville is against."

In addition to approving the legislation for the TIF district, a super majority of council members OK’d a relocation policy that will compensate residents of Clarkchester Apartments with up to $1,000 per household; is one of several properties currently located at the Walmart project site.

City representatives said the complex will be demolished as part of the development, which staff said is projected to annually generate $500,000 sales tax for the city.

Liz Schmidt is a resident of Clarkchester Apartments and the interim chairman of the Ellisville Article 9 Alliance, a group formed in opposition of the Walmart project. Schmidt said the half-cent sales tax voters was presented as an alternative to building a “big box” retailer in town.

“We voted to tax ourselves,” Schmidt said. “Yet the majority of you (on the council) have voted to approve this project—(to) put 250 people out of their housing that’s perfectly fine, decent and well cared for with $1,000 in their pockets for them to hit the street, and you call that a relocation plan? I’m sorry. I don’t believe you’ve been elected to do what you’re doing.”

In addition to the lobbying efforts opposing the Walmart project, said that they will pursue recalling the city council members who voted the development.

Ellisville resident John Arnold on Wednesday cited the city charter, which states that city council members may be recalled from office within 120 days of his or her last election. Arnold said he likely to seek the seat held by Councilmember Roze Acup, who was re-elected last month when she ran unopposed.

“Roze, like I told you before, you vote for this, 120 days,” Arnold said prior to the votes. “I’ll be seeing you.”

Jim Sansone of the Sansone Group, the principal developer with the project, said the store could be built later this year, although key details have yet to be worked out with the City.

"We'd like to break ground as soon as possible,” Sansone said.

E. Schmidt May 06, 2012 at 12:09 PM
I wrote-- >>>And as far as how well you listen, I clearly remember you telling one of or residents who explained to you how he would not be able to find housing at an affordable rate in Ellsivlle that he would just have to get used to a lower standard of living.<<< And by the way, the man I mentioned in the above "listening session" with you K James is a single working father of a teenaged son who simply wants to graduate with this high school class. Your Walmart is wrecking havoc on people's lives in ways you can't imagine. The above case is "minor" given what may happen to some people.
E. Schmidt May 06, 2012 at 12:37 PM
Michael Rhodes wrote-- >>>You are taking the ED process and the fact that it exists even though not actually used in this case as extortion and an open threat.<<< Essentially. yes. Eminent Domain was an open and ever present threat on the Clarkchester owners from 06-15-11forward (till the date they signed optional contracts) when the City Council passed the resolution which stated this: Page 2, Section 4, Article “a” of the Preliminary Funding Agreement states -- >>>“The City understands that the redevelopment project will include the construction of an approximately 120,000 square foot Wal-Mart Supercenter. The City further understands that the Company may require the use of the City’s power of eminent domain in order to assemble property within the proposed redevelopment area, and if it is required, the redevelopment agreement will allow for eminent domain…”<<< There is is in black and white--the Threat of Eminent Domain...and the fact that the City Council was willing to wield Eminent Domain on unwilling or troublesome property owners. The Threat of Eminent Domain is enough to get owners to sign when they continually lose cases where property is taken for private economic development TIF purposes. City governments are complicit--willing and eager participants--in legalized extortion. Your house or neighborhood could be next. Many, many are at risk now. Some only need zoning changes.
Michael Rhodes May 06, 2012 at 02:55 PM
Yep, I got it now. It is not the point that it was used just that it existed in the first place. Kind of like your armed robber analogy. We all are under the threat of robbery even if it isn't currently taking place. In your example I have been faced with ED before. Never thought of it as a threat myself. In my previous home there was discussion that I would lose part of my backyard to a reconfigured exit ramp. At the time they were unsure if it would be temporary or not. We never got the the discussion phase as the project was put on hold and I sold my house a few years later.
K James May 06, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Liz. I do hope the new mayor appoints you to a board! Your grasp of the information regarding this issue is ever awe-inspiring!
K James May 06, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Aww Jonathan, Had I know popcorn was involved, maybe I could have come home earlier last evening. So sorry to disappoint!
E. Schmidt May 06, 2012 at 05:02 PM
Michael Rhodes, >>>Yep, I got it now. It is not the point that it was used just that it existed in the first place.<<< Yep. You got the gist for certain now. In your case your backyard was in danger of being taken for an exit ramp--a public good in the "more traditional use of Eminent Domain." Had the project gone through and you were unhappy with the compensation, you could have filed suit for more money and likely won, but your property would still be gone. You were smart to sell the house and get outta Dodge before they tried it again....Yikes!!! And yes, nearly every homeowner is at risk for a game of stick 'em up with the City of Ellisville and a Developer on a TIF project or reduced property values as a result of a Big Box Behemoth. Unless you are safely tucked away far back from Manchester, Clarkson and Clayton Rds., you gotta problem.
E. Schmidt May 06, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Thank you for the endorsement. I will likely decline. Many evenings per week I play Autoharp…as I am on the side of the angels. It is what all the cool, hip and modern angels play these days. Even some great old timey broads and rocker chicks played Autoharp while still alive. Mother Maybelle Carter http://larrymarder.blogspot.com/2007/09/rollicking-romp-of-tune.html Janis Joplin http://larrymarder.blogspot.com/2007/09/rollicking-romp-of-tune.html and then there’s this woman…who is just hysterical… [Note: Sensitive content. I’m not kidding.] www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ky6h2WO-BM I also play steel guitar which no angel worth their wings would ever suggest anyone listen to…much…unless they were nearly deaf and bereft of any other form of entertainment.
Rockwood 25 May 06, 2012 at 06:03 PM
That very busy corner in this affluent area of West County where even more affluent citizens pass daily would not have been left undeveloped without a TIF. Perhaps it wouldn't have been as large a development, but certainly it would have been developed. The developers are in the business of maximizing their own incomes, not those of the cities and citizens where they build. Check the history; check the stats. Check how long these large developments, especially Wal-Marts, lay as vacant eyesores once Wal-Mart decides to skip to another municipality down the road before real tax monies really roll in. Meanwhile, others have had to move and tax revenue lost from taxpaying properties and businesses. As for Best Buy being a factor, it's a testament to the viability of this area that the Ellisville store stayed open so long and in such a tough economy after the new store at 141 opened. It was long expected that only one Best Buy would be serving the area; for extra years, there have been two. Giving away the tax dollars as a TIF has done nothing but shift the burden of infrastructure and our school district to the remaining citizens. We are subsidizing Sansone and WalMart...again.
Michael Rhodes May 06, 2012 at 07:41 PM
Even there the threat still remains. Should MSD, AMEREN or another company need part or all of your property they could still take it. All property owners could be impacted by ED no matter where they are located. I believe farmland is excluded, but am not positive. The project did go through and the new owner was paid for the use of a part of backyard during construction and once that was completed it was returned to the owner. Effectively they rented their property out for about 6 months. I sold as we needed a bigger house and with a child I no longer wished to have my backyard border by a freeway (noise not a safety concern).
Ron Markland May 06, 2012 at 09:25 PM
Has anyone verrified that all the properties involved real estate taxes were current at the time of the submission of this application?
K James May 06, 2012 at 11:48 PM
VERY KEWL Liz, I have not a single musical bone in my body, my bro plays several string instruments and the piano so beautifully. I will reference your web sites, thanks for the info!!!!
K James May 07, 2012 at 03:32 AM
EllisvilleRESOLUTION NO. 08-17-05A It has taken me some time to find this information, but ANYONE can read through it. It is available via the Ellisville City website on the main page. This is the resolution passed by the city council in 2005, limiting the powers of the use of eminent domain in RESIDENTIALLY zoned areas by the city. Notice the Council members who voted for it, as you'll recognize a few of the names mentioned in this very discussion thread. http://www.ellisville.mo.us/vertical/sites/%7B33CED3E0-6A3F-4820-B73B-819111695B3A%7D/uploads/Resolution_to_Limit_Use_of_Eminent_Domain.pdf Paragraph 3 lays out the use of eminent domain within COMMERCIALLY zoned areas and that the city "Will first seek the partnership of local interests (in this case - the apartment/business owners) in areas contemplated for redevelopment and will proceed ONLY WITH THE CONCURRENCE of substantial numbers of the affected parties" (again in this case, the apartment/business owners). I know that I have been referred to as obtuse, sick and several other things, but my understanding in this current case is that before ANY discussions of eminent domain were even brought to bear before the council, the majority of PROPERTY OWNERS had to agree to sell, including the ownership group of Clarkchester Apartments. continued...
K James May 07, 2012 at 03:34 AM
As I have noted before, Clarkchester was designated as a redevelopment area with the PERMISSION of the majority of the owners several years ago after numerous public meetings were conducted. As for the 'threat' of using eminent domain, that is standard in all TIF legislation, it is there to keep an owner from changing their minds after they have already agreed on a price and BEFORE contracts are signed, basically stopping someone from holding out for more cash at the last minute. So to put it in my own obtuse language; Before ANY legislation was brought before the council, the majority of property owners were asked if they were willing to sell, and yes they were. It's my understanding that the ownership group have even hired a single private attorney to represent them collectively in these negotiations in order to maximize their returns. They bought the apartments as an investment, not because they love being landlords. continued.
K James May 07, 2012 at 03:34 AM
As to the constant remarks about the city taking someones home, if it's in a RESIDENTIALLY zoned area it can't happen, as laid out in paragraph 2: "we put forth our intention not to authorize the use of eminent domain by a private developer solely for a private economic development project having no other public purpose in a residentially zoned area."...and recapped in paragraph 5: "the city has not previously used and will not in the future use its power of eminent domain to blight residential property solely for private economic development purposes." Every council since the passage of that has had to swear to uphold everything set forth by all the previous councils, so they cannot take RESIDENTIAL property for private development.
E. Schmidt May 07, 2012 at 11:30 AM
KJames, This document: Ellisville RESOLUTION NO. 08-17-05A Is a resolution, NOT and ordinance. It has no force of law. It is not worth the paper it is written on. [There is a vast difference between a resolution and an ordinance. Check the facts at any number of on line legal libraries.] And even if it was worth something slightly more useful than toilet paper, it is inconsistent and weakly worded. It doesn't protect anybody from anything. Everyone's residences is at risk. Some are directly at risk now. The others merely need zoning changes. I won't debate a worthless document that contains the long ago promises of a long out of office city council. I have better things to do with my time...like draft an initiative petition ordinance that will protect residents. Ellisville residents deserve more than empty promises.
E. Schmidt May 07, 2012 at 11:37 AM
I mislinked Janis Joplin's photo-- http://www.cookephoto.com/janisautoharp.html This is a very early photo. I hardly recognize her as Janis Joplin. http://smironne.free.fr/JANIS/JOPLIN/session.html
E. Schmidt May 07, 2012 at 11:52 AM
KJames wrote-- >>>As for the 'threat' of using eminent domain, that is standard in all TIF legislation, it is there to keep an owner from changing their minds after they have already agreed on a price and BEFORE contracts are signed, basically stopping someone from holding out for more cash at the last minute. <<< They haven't agreed on a price until some kind of contract is signed...THAT'S the agreement...the CONTRACT...what is in writing. Any party in a free-market transaction is free to change their mind BEFORE they sign a contract. You've just confirmed that The Eminent Domain is coercive and therefore is legalized extortion. Thanks for clearing that up for everyone. I couldn't have done a better job myself.
K James May 07, 2012 at 12:55 PM
Liz, i am glad tomake the pont for you. I have only spoken to the issue as i see it. You have objection to the emminent domain clause, interferring in a free market. However, it is more complicated than that, if there had not been agreement from the owners from the beginning, this process would have never gotten off the ground. It would be unfair to the citizen owners collectively if one of the owners wanted more after the rest had signed. Where is the fairness to the other owners if one holds the entire deal from completion. I get the frustration, but from the inception, long before legislation was iniatated, the majority of owners said yes to selling. As i have stated before. It is the owners who are in favor of this, it is just unfortunate that they did not include tenents in their negotiations. But in the end the majority of owners chose to go forward and get out of the landlord business.
E. Schmidt May 07, 2012 at 06:18 PM
KJames-- There is more to how this deal got off the ground than meets they eye. Re: this-->>>It would be unfair to the citizen owners collectively if one of the owners wanted more after the rest had signed. Where is the fairness to the other owners if one holds the entire deal from completion.<<< I don't know what you mean by a "citizen owner" but suffice it to say that in this rigged game of legalized extortion backed by the Threat of Eminent Domain no one is treated fairly...the one or more owners who don't think the offer is adequate (and would lose if they fought it), taxpayers who are forced to provide cheap financing to a multi-million dollar developer to build a store for a multi-billion dollar global corporation, the small business that never had a shot at TIF and stand a 40% chance of shuttering their doors within 2 years if Walmart opens and the 250 residents of Clarkchester Apts. who may get shoved out on the street with $1,000 in their pocket. I could go on, but what is the point.?...other than I find your talk of "fairness" borders on the bizarre.
C. Panter May 07, 2012 at 09:14 PM
How is it that Florissant was able to say "no TIF" and STILL the developer and WalMart built in THEIR community? Hmmm? How are we so weakened in our resolve and impatient about development during this horrible economy? Why do we need 4 Walmarts within six miles of Ellisville (assuming the one proposed for the city is built)? Isn't there such a thing as oversaturating the market? There are only so many people who can/will shop at WalMart. And... for everything we MIGHT gain from a WalMart being built in Ellisville, how many businesses and associated jobs will we lose? How many local business people have a vested financial interest in the development? When I went to the council meeting, I wondered why the owner of Mansfield Nursery was so supportive of the development, since it would certainly cut into his plant sales. Now I've heard he (the owner) has been offered a financial incentive from some source to turn his property into a restaurant site, once the WalMart is built. And finally... I signed a petition and voted because I thought my representative and city would support and promote my desires for the development of the city I call home. I'm SO very sad to hear that is NOT the case. That being said, I'm going to do some personal housecleaning when the next ballot comes up. Harumph!
jim paul May 08, 2012 at 01:39 AM
You (as elected officials) proved what i have known all along. You don't know what is going on. You think you are in power, but in fact you are clueless. My last conversation with Dawn Anglin she told me that the people on the building code commission don't need to know their jobs, (when the depth of a foundation issue arose.) Once again our elected officials have dropped the ball. Glad to know Mr. Pirrello will be driving the Ellisville bus into the ground! I said it once and i will say it to the world, if idiots could fly Ellisville city hall would be an airport.
JP March 28, 2013 at 03:54 PM
Well put, Alexandra! It's disgusting that Sean would even THINK to defend his wife's actions. The people run our gov't, not his wife! Paul is doing what what his elected platform said he would do. He won the election and that much the council needs to concede. Can't wait to see Sean's wife lose her job and "power." Hope the money she is getting from these giant corporations is worth it to them.
JP March 28, 2013 at 04:00 PM
Hey Jonathan! You know what "sucks?" Losing your home to giant corporations. Losing small businesses to Walmart. Losing one's self-respect as they sell their souls to the devil in exchange for campaign contributions. This story is sad for the entire city. It shows how corrupt the political system in small towns can become and the true intent of those that run them; money and power.
JP March 28, 2013 at 04:08 PM
People's voices are heard through their votes. The city council seems to overlook this FACT! The votes are ANTI-TIF. Sean and his wife should realize that. But maybe they will when she gets booted out of office and no longer wields her "power" she seems to love.
JP March 28, 2013 at 04:10 PM
The council clearly doesn't care about the people NOR the citizens they represent. They could care less about those being misplaced by their actions and how they will get by in the future. The only care about two things: money and power! RECALL
JP March 28, 2013 at 04:14 PM
Sean: If they don't vote, they are choosing to not have their political voices heard. The council and they mayor are the voices of the people who VOTE THEM IN OFFICE TO REPRESENT THEM! They are not voted in by those that do not vote. That makes no sense. Your "facts" are only a matter of convenience for you and your wife to hide behind. Her decisions actually AFFECT REAL PEOPLE! And she will be held responsible for them. RECALL!
JP March 28, 2013 at 04:21 PM
Have you driven by other Walmarts? Are you aware of the types of businesses that crop up around them? Concrete strip malls! Car dealerships! Pawn shops! I can live without eating at a Red Robin in the Walmart parking lot and go to my local diner instead. Walmart does NOT create an environment that is pro-small business nor an aesthetically pleasing landscape to have to gaze upon. Walmart is the biggest nightmares to happen to small towns and small businesses. The day it opens will be a sad reminder of all this...
JP March 28, 2013 at 04:23 PM
Well this is just petty and not conducive to a healthy debate at all. RECALL!
JP March 28, 2013 at 04:24 PM
Cynthia: It is one thing to build attractive outdoor shopping plazas/malls that attract stores and restaurants. It is another to create a giant massive Walmart that squashes the throats of small businesses and displaces people from their homes. The two are not equal.
JP March 28, 2013 at 04:31 PM
This made me LOL

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