August 29, 2012A blighting resolution to make way for a Walgreen's development in University City is expected to be voted on at the University City Council's Sept. 10 meeting.
A public hearing was held at the council's Aug. 27 meeting to blight the property at 8390 Delmar Blvd., at Delcrest Drive, to make way for a 15,000-square-foot Walgreens drug store with a drive-through, a three-story office building and a traffic signal at Delmar and Delcrest.
The lengthy hearing featured a dispute between the developer and the last remaining tenant of a building that sits on the property that is scheduled to be razed for the project.
An attorney for the developer, Delcrest Partners LLC, said they are seeking the blighting declaration so they can move the project ahead. The attorney, Robert Droney, told the council that attempts to offer a buyout, relocation help, and even an offer to build the tenant a new office building have been rebuffed. He said the blighting was needed because of the dilapidated condition of the building.
Droney maintained several attempts to make a deal with the tenant, Dr. Winsome Henry-Ward, were unsuccessful because she would not return communications with the developer. Henry-Ward, on the other hand, told the council she has continuously kept in contact with them and that their buyout offer of $250,000 was not enough to pay for her to relocate her dental office.
After a lengthy discussion, Councilman Arthur Sharpe Jr. asked that the city be provided proof of the opposing accusations before the blighting resolution is voted on, saying he would "hate to see this tenant taken advantage of."
City Attorney Paul Martin replied that Henry-Ward had agreed to provide copies of the email trail of correspondence between herself and the developer that she has maintained, and that the developer could do the same.
Loop Traffic/Parking Study
In other business, the council voted unanimously on a resolution calling for the city manager to seek, through an RFP (request for proposals), a Loop traffic and parking study. The Aug. 27 re-vote was the result of a dispute at the Aug. 13 council meeting when Councilwoman Paulette Carr said she thought the original vote on the traffic study, offered up by Councilman Michael Glickert and taken at the July 23 meeting, was a violation of Missouri's Sunshine Law.
Carr maintained it was a violation because it was not listed on the July 23 meeting agenda and added she thought it was a violation of the council's own rules because it arose during the council comment portion of the meeting.
"It was in no way a violation of the Sunshine Law," Mayor Shelley Welsch said Aug. 27, in explaining that an opinion from the city attorney said there was no violation.
Heman Park Shooting
Councilman Byron Price later brought up the increase in violent crimes that have been occurring in the city. He mentioned an Aug. 24 incident at Heman Park in which multiple shots were fired. Three individuals suspected in the crime were arrested and charged. There were no injuries reported.
Price also noted incidents of home invasions and burglaries. He said he wanted the city manager to compile information from the police department on the rates of crimes and where they are occurring.
"This progression of activity is out of control," Price said, adding that he has gotten more calls than ever from constituents about the rise in crime.
He also wanted to know if staffing levels in the police department were different than they were in the past few years, adding that if the cost for the previously approved traffic study turned out to be $100,000 "then give me that money and put two more cops on the street."
Price added he and Councilman Sharpe would hold a meeting with their constituents to discuss the crime rates once the statistics were gathered and released to them.