Monday night's Town and Country Board of Aldermen meeting was a brief one that started off with the city's one new alderman and three re-elected aldermen being sworn in for their new two-year terms.
Ward 4 Alderman Jon Benigas, new to the board this year, and fellow aldermen Lynn Wright of Ward 1, Tim Welby of Ward 2 and Fredd Meyland-Smith of Ward 3 all took the Oath of Office Monday night. This came after City Clerk Pamela Burdt read the April 5 election results recently certified by the St. Louis County Board of Elections.
Benigas is replacing David Karney in the Ward 4 seat. Benigas ran uncontested for the seat in the April 5 election. He previously served two terms as an alderman for Town and Country from 2005 to 2009. He told Town and Country-Manchester Patch that unlike his first run for office, this time he didn't have a specific reason or issue he wanted to solve behind his decision to run.
"Six years ago, I ran to address issues about how decisions got made. City government is drastically different than it was six years ago, and that is a reflection of what the aldermen and the mayor have accomplished," Benigas said. "There's not the single issue that has the focus of my attention this time. It's not that there are not issues that need attention. I just did not run to try and fix something in particular."
However, Benigas said his priorities are to maintain fiscal responsibility, which he feels is already being done, to find additional tenants for open commercial space and to maintain zoning ordinances as they exist--particularly one-acre residential panels. A longer term goal for Benigas is to landscape the Highway 40 entrance area at Mason Road and Highway 40. He wants to make over the area so it better reflects the city, he said.
But for now he said he's just ready to be back on the board and back to work, "I am just coming back to offer my experience and expertise," he said
Renewable Energy Systems City Ordinance
The city is in the very early stages of developing an ordinance for Alternative Energy Standards. Not having an ordinance and those guidelines to follow was a concern during a recent issue before the board for months where one resident wanted to install solar panels and other nearby residents opposed the addition to his property. Town and Country Planning Director Sharon Rothmel is working with the city attorney to begin drafting an ordinance that would set standards for future renewable energy systems, including solar and wind energy. The goal is that the document will eventually clearly define for residents and city staff what constitutes a renewable energy system. On Monday, a very rough draft was presented to the board during a work session for review, discussion and changes. Rothmel points out that this is just the beginning stage of this process and there are many more changes to come during the process of creating this ordinance. Then the proposal would go before the Planning and Zoning Commission where there would a public hearing, and it would go before the board members for any amendments to the proposed ordinance before it is voted on. Patch readers can read a copy of this early proposal in the "photos" section of this article.
The board is discussing a request for $36,507.56 by the consultant service working on the city's Stormwater Project Identification and Design Program. The city's director of public works told board members the project required more resident interaction and work than initially planned, so the additional funds would be to complete the contract as initially proposed. Those funds have been appropriated in the 2011 budget, as stated in documents provided to board members.
The board also discussed making changes to requirements to the boards' annual workshop where they meet to discuss issues related to city planning. They are considering making the time and date requirements more flexible since scheduling has been an issue in the past.
No vote was taken on either issue and they could be voted on at the next board of aldermen meeting.
Board members unanimously approved a request from Martha's Hands for a permit for a sign code variance. Now the business, located off Interstate 270, can have a larger sign than city code permits. The board also approved the request for a liquor license for Wasabi Sushi Bar coming to Town and Country Crossing.
The city has been awarded a grant of $7,500 to remove honeysuckle from , and parks. The board now needs to vote to accept the agreement to do and to accept the funds. That may be done at the next meeting. Alderwoman Wright said native plants will be planted where the honeysuckle is removed. She said honeysuckle removal will not affect the barrier in the Wheatfield subdivision.
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