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Restaurant developer eyes location on Potosi Street

FARMINGTON — As the council discussed news of one business backing out of a plan to locate in the city, a lengthy discussion began on steps to make way for a new restaurant. The discussion was part of Thursday night’s council work session.

During the meeting it was explained that the agreement between Pulaski Bank and Menards to locate a new home improvement store in Maple Valley Plaza at the corner of Maple Street and Maple Valley Drive had been terminated. Menards cited concerns with the proposed site as the reason for pulling out of the contract.

With one new business seemingly squelched, the bulk of the nearly two-hour meeting focused on a proposal to bring a new restaurant to town. Doing so will require vacating a stretch of roadway and some other actions by the council.

Mike Wolk owns the car wash near the area of Weber Road and Walton Drive, across from Walmart Supercenter. Recently he’s been negotiating with a restaurant chain to bring a new eatery to town. During Thursday night’s meeting the identity of the new business was never named, with all referrals only as “the restaurant.”

As part of the deal to sell the car wash and level it to make way for the new restaurant, the purchasing company has said it needs additional acreage for both an adequate building and parking lot. The first step in the plan would be to vacate a stretch of Potosi Street which runs northeast of the car wash. The next step would require eliminating a stretch of Weber Road which runs between the existing car wash and Karsch Boulevard. Instead of being a city street as it is now, a small strip of the roadway would remain as a legal easement for ingress and egress to Holman Health Care complex, owned by Dave Holman.

In addition to concerns over traffic to and from the pharmacy and other businesses owned by Holman, council members and administration also voiced issues about ongoing traffic problems near the Karsch, Weber and Potosi interchange. The problems stem from poor design when Weber and the other streets were connected to Business 32 years ago. As the population increased and more residential and commercial development happened in the immediate area the traffic flow has become more problematic.

Holman was at the meeting to argue against the plan to vacate the section of street behind the car wash. He said his business relies on the roadway for truck traffic carrying oxygen tanks, wheelchairs and other supplies and equipment. He said it was his understanding the next step would be vacating the stretch of Weber Road in front of the car wash, which serves as the main approach for customers of his business.

Wolk was also at the meeting. He reminded Holman that at the time he wanted to build his pharmacy and office complex, Wolk agreed to vacating a stretch of Potosi Street to provide the additional land to Holman. He said he has always allowed Holman to use a section of the car wash lot for truck traffic for his business. Additionally he said he had always cleaned snow and ice from the roads leading in and out of Holman’s business complex.

City Planner Tim Barnes said the restaurant developer has indicated it would leave a section of what is now Weber Road which runs adjacent to Karsch Boulevard to be used as a right-of-way for Holman’s business. But Holman argued that the restaurant would result in too much traffic, which would sqeulch access to his business.

In the end it was said that no action would be taken immediately. The vacation of the right-of-way was only on the meeting agenda for a “first reading” and not a vote. Talk of vacating the stretch of Weber Road, it was explained, would go before Planning and Zoning in January, and likely come before the council for a first reading in February.

Holman eventually said he believed he could come to some agreement on the restaurant chain’s plan if he had 30 days or so to talk to some people and explore some options. The public hearing ended with an  agreement for city officials to meet with Holman about his concerns in coming days.

The group also held a public hearing about a planned unit development known as Phase 2 of Applewood Apartments Subdivision located at Weber Road and Electric Street. Developer Matt Burgess has also completed Phase 1 of the rental property complex, and is now ready to add more buildings. Approval of Phase 2 should take place during the regular council meeting slated for Monday evening.

Later in the meeting the council approved a 90-day trial for changes to parking on Jefferson Street alongside the St. Francois County Courthouse. Initially the plan was to make the parking spots available to restaurant and other business customers during evening hours and weekends. The spots have previously been reserved for judges and law enforcement parking, which tend to only use the parking spots during daytime hours.

When the council took action to open the parking spots to the public during evening and weekend hours, one circuit court judge reportedly disagreed with the plan. He reasoned that he often worked beyond the afternoon and weekends.

Councilman Dennis Smith made it clear that he was abstaining from any discussion or vote on the 90-day trial since the parking spots were often utilized by sheriff’s department employees, of which he is one.

Joe McMillen, chairman of the Public Works committe, proposed the 90-day trial. He suggested the two spots on Jefferson Street nearest Liberty Street be reserved for the judges’ use Monday through Friday, and open for public use on weekends. He suggested the remaining parking spots on the courthouse side of Jefferson Street be reserved for law enforcement officers transporting prisoners to and from court between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The spots will be available to the public during evening and overnight hours and on weekends.

The council, short of Smith who had excused himself from the vote, agreed unanimously to the three-month trial period.

The group will meet next on Monday night, moving the regular monthly meeting forward a week to allow for the Christmas holiday. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the basement of Long Memorial Hall.

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