Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Local Digest

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Local Digest

Article excerpt

UNIVERSITY CITY > Wording on two ballot initiatives draws criticism * Ballot proposals to finance streets and parks improvements are misleading because they do not include references to associated tax increases, according to a City Council member and a government watchdog.

"This constitutes electioneering and is illegal," resident Tom Sullivan said at Monday night's council meeting.

"What goes on the ballot will not be accurate," Councilwoman Paulette Carr said.

However, others said that voters going to the polls in April will know that the bonds proposals, if approved, would require tax increases.

The ballot wording "may have been a space and editing issue," Councilman Rod Jennings said. "The voters know there is going to be a tax."

Carr and Sullivan were among critics who charged that city officials conspired to delete council-approved ballot wording, which specified that each of two bond proposals would require a 20-year property tax hike.

Sullivan complained about the wording in a Feb. 23 letter to St. Louis County elections director Eric Fey. However, Carr said that, because absentee voting is set to begin this week, it is too late to change ballots.

Voters on April 7 will consider a $20 million bond issue proposal for streets and sidewalks, and a second $5 million bond issue for parks improvements. Each bond issue would require a four-sevenths (57 percent) majority for approval, officials said, and be financed by an increase in property tax rates.

Mayor Shelley Welsch said after the meeting that the ballot wording complies with Missouri statutes and with the intent of the council. (Special to the Post-Dispatch)

OVERLAND > City rethinking downtown land use * Proposals that would need special-use permits, conditional-use permits or even rezonings are now stopped in downtown Overland for six months under a moratorium approved Monday night by the City Council.

The move was part of a continuing effort to re-examine zoning and land use downtown and to eventually take a fresh look at all land uses in the city.

Downtown, originally including areas along Woodson Road north of Lackland Road but now also with areas to the east and west along Lackland, currently has the same commercial and planned commercial zones applicable elsewhere in the city. But downtown should have its own specific zone with regulations tailored to specific needs and attributes of that area, city staff recommends.

"The commercial zoning that is in place on Page Avenue with required building setbacks may not be the best fit for new development in downtown any more," City Administrator Jason McConachie said.

The moratorium resolution says the city eventually will adopt modern land use classifications, replacing outdated classifications. The planning firm Peckham, Guyton, Albers & Viets is under contract to write the final set or proposals, which will be subjected to public hearings and council approval. …

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