December 06, 2007

O'Fallon, Mayor and Wal-Mart make bad neighbors

Wal-Mart has asked the City of O'Fallon for permission to increase the size of its existing store by 75,000 square feet. Part of the plan would pave over the existing detention basin, thus, requiring a new detention basin to be built. In anticipation of this THF purchased a home in a private residential neighborhood to tear down and use for the new detention basin. (THF's chairman is Stan Kroenke, who married into the Walton family. The company does much of the development work across the country for Wal-Mart.) However, the neighborhood in which the home is located is not in O'Fallon but instead is in unincorporated St. Charles County.

To help Wal-Mart out O'Fallon is proposing to voluntary annex this one piece of land and allow it to be used for a detention basin. Not surprisingly, the residents of the neighborhood oppose O'Fallon's plan and at the last meeting of the council many of the residents voiced their displeasure with the plan.

Now one might think the use of property, zoned residential, for a commercial purpose would require a change of zoning and a zoning change would require a public hearing and due process. In fact, this argument was made to the council by an attorney representing the residents, apparently to no avail. However, O'Fallon has never allowed legalities to stand in the way of helping out a developer. In fact, Mayor Donna Morrow quickly dismissed the concerns of the "non-residents" who dared to speak out against the plan.

When Morrow ran for office she was known as the "pipeline lady" because of her fight over a pipeline which ran through her neighborhood. Morrow the candidate promised Morrow the Mayor would stand up to the developers and builders who controlled O'Fallon. However, Morrow settled a civil lawsuit she had with her builder over the pipeline and she has long since forgotten her campaign promises. Thus, her lack of concern for the legality of this plan and the effect it may have on "non-residents" is not a surprise to those who supported her. However, we hope you understand this unneighborly conduct is not limited to you, we have to live with it.

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