After a three-hour plus presentation and an hour of public comments, the Board of Aldermen approved several measures related to a proposed new Sam's Club.
Rezoning proposals and the creation of a planned Community Improvement District (CID) each passed on first reading. Second and final readings are required to approve the measures. The city typically passes measures on their first read and allows them to pass or fail on the final read. According to Mayor Paul Lambi, denying a measure on the first read leaves it pending, whereas allowing it to pass through the system to deny or pass on the final read give the issue closure.
The vote on a site plan for a Sam's Club fueling station that would sit closer to the current store deadlocked at 3-3, with Aldermen Leon Tow, Rick Stokes and Vann Sample approving the measure and Aldermen Peggy Meyer, Nick Guccione and Cheryl Kross denying it. Lambi cast the deciding vote for the measure.
Projected tax revenues for the city over the next 27 years, based on revenue projections from Sam's Club, is more than $45 million. For the first 15 years of the store's operation, the city's tax benefit is projected at more than $1.5 million and the benefit to the is $123,500 annually.
The new Sam's would sit behind the existing and across from . Initial specs put the store at 136,000 square feet on a 26-acre lot. The store would face Bear Creek Drive.
According to Alan Bornstein of THF Realty, the entrance to the site would come from Bear Creek Drive. Deliveries would be required to enter and exit the facility through the existing service road behind Wal-Mart. There also is room on the proposed Sam's lot for a restaurant or store to go in, although nothing is planned at this time.
Several residents got up to speak at the city meeting, including Joel Hubble, who read a statement on behalf of himself and other residents. He told the board that 100 residents in the area had signed a petition against putting the Sam's Club at the location near Wal-Mart.
Hubble raised several points with the board. They included:
- Traffic. Hubble said the city and developers couldn't speak accurately about the traffic because they didn't know how many people would use the new lanes created by the city's plan to improve Wentzville Parkway and Pearce. He said people avoid the area because of traffic congestion now.
- Desirable location. Hubble said that with the topography of the site, a cemetery on the property and a nearby golf course community, there must have been a more desirable location for the Sam's Club.
- Gas Station. There are six diesel pumps proposed at the fuel station. Hubble questioned the need for so many and noted that he never waits for gas at the on Wentzville Parkway.
Several others echoed Hubble's statement and questioned the impact of the proposed retail location on their property values. More than one resident asked the board how they should go about conveying their displeasure with the location.
Lambi told them they were doing what they needed to do by speaking in an open meeting to their elected officials.
"We are here to listen to what you have to say, but we also have a duty under the constitution to respect those coming before us with a petition," Lambi said. "We owe it to them to hear their case; this is a fair use of property."
After hearing from residents, Bornstein gave the city an in-depth look at Sam's Club's plans for the site. A copy of the THF presentation is available on the city's Web site.
Bornstein began his presentation by referring to the city's comprehensive land use and zoning plan. The plan was originally passed in 1989 and provides a guide for the city on residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural zones.
The bulk of the property on which the Sam's Club location is proposed has been zone C-3 (commercial) since 1988. A C-3 designation's principal use is all types of commercial activity including retailing, wholesaling, personal and business services and entertainment along and in close proximity to major transportation arteries which generate high volumes of average daily traffic.
C-3 Permitted Uses
The below is a list of permitted uses in a General Commercial District in Wentzville.
- Agricultural or farm equipment sales storage or repair.
- Amphitheater or drive-in theater.
- Amusement park, game complex, arcade.
- Auditorium, arena or fieldhouse, convention center, museum, planetarium.
- Baking facility, bottling works and food packaging.
- Boat and boat trailer leasing, sales, service and storage.
- Commercial recreational use such as bowling alleys, billiard parlors, dance hall, skating rink, or a use of similar character.
- Furniture sales, refinishing, repair, reupholstery.
- Garden supply and display store.
- Lawn-care service establishment.
- Lumberyard and building material/supply store.
- Mortuary/funeral home.
- Printing, publishing, painting and engraving services and shops.
- Professional offices.
- Recreational vehicles, travel trailers (not mobile homes), camper sales and storage, provided all units are in a usable condition.
- Rental sales and services including yard and garden supplies, trailers (not mobile homes) and other such items, provided storage is within a completely enclosed building.
- School for industrial training, trade or business training.
Bornstein reiterated the results of a traffic study first presented at the city's meeting on April 7. The findings suggest that with city planned improvements that will begin later this year and suggested improvements by THF Realty, traffic congestion will improve on Wentzville Parkway, Pearce and Bear Creek.
The traffic consultant for the project told the board that the resident's concerns were taken under consideration for the plan. Shawn White also said that the only time in her 16 year career that projected traffic improvements did not work was when the city did not adopt her recommendations.
"It does not function as I projected," she said.
Bear Creek CID
The developers are seeking a 1/2 cent sales tax within the CID, which would cover the Sam's Club and an unnamed out-lot store or restaurant to be build on the Sam's parking lot.
The sales tax also would cover a small portion of the existing Transportation Development District (TDD). The CID sales tax would take over the tax currently charged in that section of the city's TDD 2.
The 1/2 cent sales tax, plus another 1/2 cent tax shared with the city, would provide funds to facilitate development of the site. The sales tax collected would not exceed $7.25 million.
According to Tom Cunningham, the city's bond council said there is a specific definition for blight under the CID Act, which provides additional authority to expend funds for improvements to parcels of land within the CID.
He also noted that the changes in the sales tax in that area could benefit the citizens and shoppers in .
"The existing obligation of TDD bonds will be absorbed with the revenues from Sam's," he said. "The CID bonds have a shorter term than TDD funds."
This will create a better result for the duration of the levy for both the city and the taxpayers, according to Cunningham.
Under the CID act, the developers are seeking a definition of blight, which is a specific term related to the ability to finance the project, Cunningham said.
"This is not blight like we think of when we hear it related to TIFs," he said.
Blight factors in a CID district are determined by the following factors:
- Deterioration of site improvements
- Obsolete platting
- Defective or inadequate street layout
- Unsafe conditions
The CID tax proposal is as follows for the sales tax. Tax rates are set at a modest return, under expected results, in order to ensure that the tax is retired after 27 years. Bornstein said with data from Sam's Club sales in similar towns, the pay off rate is 15 years.Overlay Tax CID Fund Tax Tax Amount One-half cent One-half cent Tax Area CID Boundary Sam's Club Only Term of Coverage 27 Years 27 Years Payoff Period 15 Years 15 Years City Liability None None
If things go according to schedule, Bornstein said he expected the sale of the land to be complete in late summer with construction to begin immediately following the sale.
"We are looking to be open by spring or early summer — sometime in the second quarter of next year," he said.
The development budget for the project is as follows.Land Acquistion $5.1 millon Onsite and offsite work/engineering $6.25 million Building $9.5 million Entitlement/other $600,000 Financing Cost $750,000 Development Fee $750,000 Total: $22.950,000
First Reading Approvals
The following is a list of Sam's Club bills and resolutions approved by the board Wednesday night.
- Bill No. 3308 — An ordinance of the City of Wentzville, Missouri, providing for the rezoning of 3.0 acres, mol from A - Agricultural Zoning District to C-3 Highway Commercial Zoning District.
- Bill No. 3309 — An ordinance of the City of Wentzville, Missouri, providing for the rezoning of 3.0 acres, mol from A - Agricultural Zoning District to C-3 Highway Commercial Zoning District.
- Bill No. 3310 — An ordinance of the City of Wentzville, providing for the rezoning of five acres, mol from A - Agricultural Zoning District to C-3 Highway Commercial Zoning District.
- Bill No. 3312 — An ordinance approving the Record Plat for Bear Creek Commercial East, owned by Mark and Kelly Hinch, Steven and Mary Beth Heying, David and Deborah Demien and PILP, LLC.
- Bill No. 3313 — An ordinance approving a petition for establishment of a Community Improvement District; Establishing the Bear Creek Community Improvement District; Determining that a certain portion of the Bear Creek Community Improvement District is a “Blighted Area;” approving a certain development agreement; and providing for other related matters, all pursuant to the Community Improvement District Act.
The city will vote again on the measures at its next meeting on Wednesday, April 27. At that meeting the city will seat new board member Chris Gard, who won as seat in the April 5 election. Incumbents Kross and Guccione also will be sworn-in.