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Food at Ballwin Wendy's On Track to Bear Developer-Imposed Tax

A divided Ballwin City Council recently voted not to interfere with plans from a local developer that would create a Transportation Development District around the planned Wendy's and U-Gas businesses at the former Rothman Furniture site.

The and U-Gas planned for the former in Ballwin are likely to be subject to an additional sales tax following a request by the project's developer and a passive motion by Ballwin board members.

The decision would result in the creation of a Transportation Development District or TDD, which would place an additional 1 percent sales tax on all transactions within the district. Funds garnered by the TDD by law are required to be used for transportation improvements, which developer Bill Biermann of W.B. Biermann in Chesterfield said would go toward the cost of implementing pavement, retaining walls, infrastructure for storm water drainage and street lights.

Like the one in place for the grocery store, the TDD would be scheduled to expire after 20 years.

“These improvements are less extensive than those being done for Schnucks, but the U-Gas and Wendy’s are much smaller businesses and will generate less tax revenue for the district," Biermann told council members at a Feb. 27 meeting.

Biermann told council members in December that the tax was being sought out because of miscalculated expenses, mainly in terms of costs associated with transporting soil.

“We made some mistakes that were big mistakes,” Biermann said. “An assumption was made that some of the materials would be hauled off at a very close distance."

Biermann said that when it was discovered that the dirt and materials on site didn't match the specifications sought by the potential buyer, the development's overall cost grew.

He said those setbacks could cost close to $700,000, or between $500,000 and $1 million.

Property owners at the site filed have a lawsuit in St. Louis County Court against the site's transportation authorities—The City of Ballwin, St. Louis County and the Missouri Department of Transportation—in search of the TDD, which will require a public hearing and then a judge's order. Ballwin City Attorney Bob Jones said official opposition by the City board would require them to identify how the project's petition was defective, why the district is illegal or unconstitutional, or why the proposed funding method is illegal.

"That’s a relatively small group of things that we have an interest in," Jones said.

Jones added that opposition from the city would not negate a judge's ability to approve the district.

Last month, the Ballwin Board of Alderman voted to "not oppose formation of the TDD." Those in agreement were Aldermen Richard Boerner, Frank Fleming, Kathy Kerlagon, James Leahy and Mayor Tim Pogue.

Fleming said at that time he was not opposed to the TDD given Biermann's credibility to date with developments such as the . He also said the city would benefit from the stipulated infrastructural additions required by the TDD.

"There are some legitimate public improvements all the way around," Fleming said. "It’s paid for by people who do their shopping there. If people don’t want to shop there because there’s a TDD, they can buy their gas down the road if they want to. It’s not being forced on anybody.

Aldermen Shamed Dogan, Michael Finley, Mark Harder and James Terbrock voted against the motion.

"Who in the world in business has that ability to say, 'Shoot, we missed our number—let’s impose a tax and get it back,'" Terbrock said. "Does anybody have that?”

Ballwin resident David Snow told the Board of Aldermen on Monday that the businesses under the project should be required to be more transparent about the added costs.

“Why not let them state that on a very prominent sign in the store or something saying, ‘We have … implemented an additional tax to put this property here,’ that way they don’t think Ballwin is applying the tax,” Snow said. “Let them bear the brunt of who’s paying for what they’re getting.”

The public hearing regarding the TDD is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 27 at .

Editor's Note: This article was last updated at 8:22 a.m.

Michael Rhodes March 19, 2012 at 01:41 PM
Their was no request to deny. The city has choosen not to fight the developer in court when they request the TDD. City could have choosen to oppose the request and fought the developer in court to try and prevent the TDD. Not sure if the County or MODOT will oppose the creation of the TDD.
Chase Castle March 21, 2012 at 07:30 PM
What do you guys think the likelihood is that the additional tax, if it goes through, would impact how often people shop there?
James Cleeve March 22, 2012 at 02:25 AM
Let's see... gas at the Quick Trip across the street is $3.99... OR I can go to U-Gas and pay $4.02 after the extra 1%. How do you think it will impact people? I know I won't shop at either place. Nor will I shop at any business that benefits from a TDD or TIF. Of course these are getting so common that I may have to in the future, huh?
Michael Rhodes March 22, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Pretty sure the TDD only applies to inside sales (not gas). I will probably eat at Wendy's every once in a while and the 1% is my price to pay to have their food over other fast food locations (McDonalds, Burger King, etc..). That extra $.05 on a $05 meal doesn't bother me. I currently don't buy my gas at either location (unless I really need to), so I likely won't shop at the U-gas or QT either way. I get my gas at Sam's club and save about $0.17 per gallon that way. I think a majority of people will shop based on convience of the location. If they are traveling west on Manchester the U-gas will be easier to get into and if going east QT might be the stop. There will be people that will avoid the location for the same reason James is as it is an important issue for them. A majority though won't care. Heck, U-gas could have better prices resulting in less tax paid anyhow.
Michael Rhodes March 22, 2012 at 01:02 PM
I did confirm the TDD does not apply to gas as that is set at the state level.

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