Mobile Homes Become Main Focus Of Public Hearings, Thursday

By ERIC X. VICCARO

eviccaro@stegenherald.com

There were three public hearings during Thursday’s Ste. Genevieve Board of Alderman meeting.

One might figure there would have been lively discussions over proposed increases in water and sewer rates.

However, that didn’t materialize.

Rather talks focused on Bill No. 4402, an ordinance approving a special use permit for Ste. Genevieve Properties, LLC, and Hunter Lee Holdings.

The permit would allow the replacement of a non-conforming mobile home at 205 S. Tenth Street (Lot No. 4) with a newer model.

During the public hearing, Cara Naeger from Ste. Genevieve Properties, LLC, spoke on behalf of allowing the special use.

“There had previously been an old mobile home on Lot No. 4,” Naeger said in the special use permit application, “which we demolished to put a newer model in its place.”

The public hearing and board of alderman discussions took up roughly half of meeting time, which lasted one hour, 55 minutes.

The property, which also adjoins South Gabouri Street, is located in an R-2 general residential zone. The lot is 42,000 square feet.

Gina Bryant, a member of the Ste. Genevieve Planning and Zoning Commission, and city resident Ron Gettinger gave public comments against the allowance.

“The tenants are great,” Bryant said. “I am not complaining about that. I am about the care of the property.”

The general consensus is that a mobile home park at this site has become rundown in recent years. The park has been a fixture since the 1970s, it was learned during the meeting.

Gettinger also complained about maintenance concerns, including some doors and windows not having screens. Some windows are cracked, or even missing, it was reported. There also are issues with rust and gutters.

Community development administrator David Bova reported to the board there have been four building violations and five nuisance reports — all of which were abated.

Police chief Eric Bennett was asked if the mobile home park could be considered a high crime area.

“It ebbs and flows,” he said.

The Planning and Zoning Commission approved the special use during its Nov. 5 meeting.

Chairman Gary Roth, members Carl Kinsky, Justin Donovan and Kathleen Waltz as well as aldermanic representative Joe Prince all voted in favor, with Bryant the lone dissenting vote. Anthony Grass and Kristi Cleghorn were absent from the meeting.

In documentation, it was explained the replacement mobile home must be manufactured after 1980, adhere to all municipal codes and ensure “exterior yards on the property shall by maintained at all times.”

The application process was started on Oct. 29. Travis Huisman, of Hunter Lee Holdings, LLC, in Ackley, Iowa, also is listed on the application.

City attorney Mark Bishop, from the Wegmann Law Office, was asked questions regarding the legal use and description of the property.

Bishop recommended the board of alderman not reject the bill, stating it’s “consistent with the use of the property.” Mayor Paul Hassler agreed with Bishop during discussions.

Some aldermen expressed concerns over the current state of property management, and the long-term plan for the park.

“There are a lot of unknowns,” Prince said.

An original first reading was deadlocked at 3-3-1-1, with Ashley Armbruster, Gary Smith and Bob Donovan casting “no” votes.

Ward 2 Alderman Michael “Buck” Jokerst abstained from voting due to a relationship with the property owner and Jeff Eydmann was absent from proceedings.

The original first reading then was rescinded, with Prince making a motion for a “new first reading,” which passed 4-2-1-1.

A vote to waive a second reading was denied by a 3-3-1-1 vote, with the same people giving “nos.” The second reading will be on the agenda for the Jan. 14, 2021, board of alderman meeting, city administrator Happy Welch said.

Naeger may speak on behalf of the mobile home during the meeting, but only during the public comment portion. There will not be a second public hearing on the matter.

The other public hearings centered on water and sewer rates, and a request from Rodney Milfelt from Milfelt Auto Body, LLC, for a variance and a special use permit at his business located at 17746 U.S. Highway 61.

The aldermen approved the variance by a 7-0-1 vote, allowing Milfelt to erect a 24×12-foot freestanding sign. The property is located in an R-1 single family residential zone.

Alderman approved two-percent water and sewer rate increases, with Smith and Donovan casting “no” votes.

Smith said he couldn’t justify an increase at this time, in light of both the current cost of living and additional expenses people are facing during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

No public comments were made during the public hearing on the matter.

Water rates will increase from $6.81 to $6.95 per cubic feet, with sewer jumping from $8.16 to $8.32/cubic foot.

Industrial customer water rates will bump from a minimum of $5.87 to $6.05/cubic foot — which works out to a three-percent increase.

“An average residential bill of $60 per month will go up $1.20 plus tax,” Welch said in a written memorandum to the aldermen.

Increases have been in the works since a work session dated Oct. 22.