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Ellisville Walmart Development Facts and Myths: Part 4

Patch sat down with Ellisville city officials to confirm or dispel some of the myths surrounding the controversial development. Part four of a series.

The Clarkchester Apartments and Eminent Domain

On May 25, to protest a developer’s takeover of their living quarters.

The developer, Sansone Group, plans on purchasing the lot of land where the apartments currently stand and combine it with an empty lot next to it to build a Walmart.

Several residents accused the city of Ellisville and the Sansone Group of engaging in the "threat of eminent domain" in order to take over the apartments.

Ellisville Finance Director Don Cary said, however, that there is no such threat of eminent domain.

Cary said all of the property owners of Clarkchester Apartments negotiated directly with the Sansone Group, and thus the purchase of the apartments does not constitute eminent domain.

In addition, the that would go toward each occupant of the apartment from the $1,000 required by law to $2,000. Residents may also chose the Sansone Group to pay for moving costs instead of receiving the cash.

At the end of the day, Cary said, it came down to a decision between the property owners and the Sansone Group—a decision in which the city took no part.

"The property owners (of Clarkchester Apartments) are business people, and as such they do have a right to sell their property if they wish," Cary said.

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Writer's note: Since the Walmart development project was presented to the Ellisville City Council in April, rumors surrounding its design, size and effects on the community have surfaced in the comments section of this site, in social media and during public hearings.

In an attempt to clarify what is known, what is a myth and what is unknown about the Walmart development, Ballwin-Ellisville Patch met with Ada Hood, planning director; Bill Schwer, public works director; and Don Cary, finance director, to discuss the project.

Stay tuned for Part 5 of the series.

mike k August 22, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Thank you for your honest summation of the Ellisville/Walmart situation. It goes a long way to dispelling the rhetoric of some that want to paint Walmart and the members of the Ellisville council that support this endeavor in a negative light.
E. Schmidt August 22, 2012 at 03:20 PM
>>>Ellisville Finance Director Don Cary said, however, that there is no such threat of eminent domain.<<< Mr. Cary needs to do some reading...The document he needs is right there at City Hall, so he should have no trouble finding it...See below. Eminent Domain was an open and ever present threat on the Clarkchester owners from 06-15-11 forward (till the date they signed optional contracts) when the City Council passed the resolution which stated this: “A Resolution Authorizing a Preliminary Funding Agreement with Sansone Group in Connection with a Proposed Tax Increment Financing Project and Authorizing Certain Actions Connected Therewith.” 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…”<<< So,there is is in black and white--the Threat of Eminent Domain--and the fact that the Ellisville City Council was willing to wield Eminent Domain on unwilling or troublesome property owners. The Clarkchester owners were aware they were under the of the Threat of Eminent Domain and told the residents so in black and white as well.
E. Schmidt August 22, 2012 at 03:25 PM
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. The Clarkchester owners were likely aware of this. 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. The resolution restricting the use of Eminent Domain isn't worth the paper it's written on. If you think it is time for a change at City Hall, please email ellisvilleA9A@yahoo.com and introduce yourself. This Walmart TIF is not a done deal. Contact your council members to vote NO Sept. 5th on the Walmart conditional use permit. We CAN STOP THIS PROJECT. http://www.ellisville.mo.us/index.asp?Type=B_LIST&SEC={FB87DFD1-FFF2-439B-A1EB-AE83D3BB2B2E}
E. Schmidt August 22, 2012 at 03:47 PM
And just to call attention to something very interesting this piece of legislation-- “A Resolution Authorizing a Preliminary Funding Agreement with Sansone Group in Connection with a Proposed Tax Increment Financing Project and Authorizing Certain Actions Connected Therewith.” was passed 06-15-11....Only 61 days...count 'em...61 days...after voters approved an additional .05 cent sales tax on 04-05-11 with the understanding that passage of the sales tax would make a TIF project not necessary. If you have questions about what the City Council was up to then and what it is up to now, you are not alone.
Jane August 22, 2012 at 04:06 PM
I am a resident of Clarkchester Apartments and am not part of the Ellisville Article 9 Alliance. I am losing my home but I'm not all that broken up about it. I think the offers from the Sansone Group are fair and unlike some I'm still young with sufficient income, not disabled or elderly or the parent of children still in the Rockwood School District. I have been told on at least two different occasions by multiple owners that the negotiations were entered into with the looming threat of eminent domain by the city of Ellisville. In my opinion Mr. Cary mis-spoke. As to whether this was deliberate or he was not aware there is no excuse for this behavior. The owners felt (and some still feel) strongly that this was not an "if" but a "when" situation and as such had to act accordingly. I am fully aware that some of the owners supported this completely and that this project will net them sufficient funds to extricate themselves from loans etc allowing them to retire. I do not believe that the owners are getting a raw deal but why can't there be complete transparency from our city government in this matter?
Dan Duffy August 22, 2012 at 04:34 PM
It seems odd that a clear reference to eminent domain in the legislation is ignored by both parties...seems deceptive at best. On the other hand, I guess it is possible that neither the Patch reporter or the Ellisville official have read the legislation! How about a follow-up question to the city asking about the reference to eminent domain in the legislation?
Dan Duffy August 22, 2012 at 05:52 PM
"At the end of the day, Cary said, it came down to a decision between the property owners and the Sansone Group—a decision in which the city took no part." This is simply not the case. The City Council passed the TIF, which authorizes a taxpayer funded purchase of the property. Future sales tax revenue from the Wal-Mart will be used to repay the developer for the cost of purchasing the property. This is about as far as you can get from "taking no part" in the transaction. Unfortunately, this article misinforms the public about the project in several important ways. There needs to be some sort of correction.
E. Schmidt August 22, 2012 at 09:49 PM
Jane, No need for any of us to pack our bags right now, in the distant future. ..or perhaps ever. I’m glad you feel you’ll be OK, if you do have to move. I appreciate that you noted this: >>> unlike some I'm still young with sufficient income, not disabled or elderly or the parent of children still in the Rockwood School District.<<< As you know, many of our residents are seniors, on fixed incomes, disabled or single working parents. Some have been here for 12 – 20 years. I debated whether or not to bringing this up at all, but some time has passed since this tragic event and I want people to know how this proposed project has affected at least one person. In the middle of June we lost a long time Clarkchester resident. She was an older lady who was laid off from her job in 2009 due to the recession. Fortunately, she was eligible for Social Security sometime either after her unemployment benefits either ran out or were close to running out. She worked a part time job to make ends meet. She and I regularly discussed the situation with the Walmart TIF. She was terribly frightened that she would not be able to find another affordable apartment or subsidized senior housing due to long waiting lists. We also discussed this on numerous occasions. She was glad that I and others were fighting the project, but she seemed to be losing hope on various levels. This fear ground her down. I watched it happen.
E. Schmidt August 22, 2012 at 09:51 PM
She was so frightened of becoming homeless that she couldn’t sleep and began taking sleeping pills. [She had some back problems and may have been taking pain killers. We don’t know.] I was at a City Council meeting when I found out she had been found dead in her apartment that afternoon from an apparent accidental overdose. She was a 25 year breast cancer survivor, but she couldn’t beat the fear this situation caused her. There are unintended consequences to the City Council’s actions. This is not some vote flipping game to be played among a few who sit in the council chambers.
Rockwood 25 August 22, 2012 at 10:01 PM
Agreed.
mike k August 22, 2012 at 10:25 PM
Oh please, now we're expected to believe Walmart caused this poor persons death. This is as bad as the Democrates blaming Romney for that woman's death because her husband lost his job because of big bad Bain Capital. Trouble was, the woman had health insurance for two years after her husband lost his job and died five years after Romney left Bain.
mike k August 22, 2012 at 10:30 PM
September 5th, second reading, Walmart project will be approved and there is nothing you can do to stop it. Better start packing your bags.
Ethos August 23, 2012 at 02:35 AM
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E. Schmidt August 23, 2012 at 11:07 AM
The Threat of Eminent Domain is not only in the 06-15-11 Preliminary Funding Agreement, it is also in the actual Development Agreement on p. 10, Section 3.2 Condemnation, paragraph (a). So, there is another document right there at City Hall that Mr. Cary can grab and read when he has some time.
Ellisville Resident Dist. One August 23, 2012 at 08:31 PM
Well Mike, better break out your wallet because you are going to be paying extra in sales taxes and lining Sam Walton's pockets some more. Keep up this foolish behavior Mike and you'll be needing affordable property such as Clarkchester Apts. Heck, I got a new shed I need built... will you pay for that too???

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