Reopening the license office and residential expansion were discussed at the Ste. Genevieve County Commission earlier this month at the courthouse.
Dena Kreitler, executive director of the Ste. Genevieve Chamber of Commerce, updated the commission on the hot topic of Ste. Genevieve not having a license bureau. The chamber, along with other entities, have applied to reopen the office in the city.
“I did call [Rep.] Dale Wright this morning, he’s going to do some work on the state level and see, him and [Rep.] Elaine Gannon is going to try and push a little harder,” she said.
“What really got me fired up yesterday was that I read a press release from the governor that they are opening up three temporary offices in St. Louis, Springfield and Kansas City. I reached back to his direct office and I said 'how about we just appoint the offices that aren’t even open?' I got an email back that said someone will be calling you from our office shortly.”
Kreitler says that she constantly monitors the procurement website where the contract will be awarded.
“I type in 'Ste. Genevieve' and all it tells me here is it’s ended. I go in and review the report, at the very bottom it says there are no award documents provided at this time.”
Both Kreitler and Presiding Commissioner Garry Nelson discussed the problem and noted that they were not responsible for the delay in having the office reopened.
“There is going to be a license office opened again,” Kreitler said. “It might not be opened by the chamber. There’s so much stuff going around on social media that we aren’t going to have a license office. I think that is fueling the irate phone calls that we are getting. Last week I had my fill of irate phone calls.”
“Red tape,” Nelson said. “It’s the governmental red tape. We have been without a license office for six months, there’s absolutely no reason for it.”
“That’s exactly what it is,” Kreitler added. “We are at the mercy of the state. The only reason the chamber is getting the heat is that we are the only entity that came forward and said we applied. None of the other four people have come forward and said they applied. Honestly, what I think it is there were five of us that applied. They are probably just doing their due diligence.
“What’s happening when people are going out of town, they’re getting to Farmington or Festus or Perryville, and then they don’t have the right documentation. Then they have to come all the way back, no one’s helping them.”
Nelson stressed that any of the public that is having an issue with the lack of a license office should call the Missouri Department of Revenue at 573-526-1827 and voice their complaints.
Affordable housing in Ste. Genevieve and Ste. Genevieve County was the next item on the agenda for Kreitler.
Nelson talked to a local home builder and developer about looking at some property the Catholic Church has and is thinking about selling for development.
“He’s put in several subdivisions,” he said. “He knows how to figure [utilities], and what I told him was look at the acreage and see comfortable lots, not stacked on each other and give an idea what would be the acceptable price for per acre to buy it, sell 70% of the lots and not lose money.
“We’ve got the best drawing cards anywhere in the state. You have the biggest playground in the state, nice water park, community center, ballfield, tennis court, if you’re raising kids, what more do you want?”
Kreitler noted that the plans are for affordable housing in the $180,000-225,000 range.
“The problem is that there are no more available lots in the Ste. Genevieve city limits to build,” she said. “Valle Springs have sold their last ones.
"In order for our city to grow, we have to do something in our city limits or our population will not grow. You can’t even rent a house in Ste. Genevieve right now, there’s no rentals even. You’re seeing the county grow a little bit because there’s room for growth out there, but there’s nothing in the city limits, which hinders us on a lot of different aspects. We can’t get any shopping or restaurants in here because our population is only 4,000 people.
“The intent of the chamber and the Industrial Development Corporation for the affordable housing initiative is to first grow city limits and then if that’s not doable then we’ll look to our county. We have room to expand out in the north part of the county and the west part too.”
Kreitler explained that they have worked on the housing initiative for two years and have had interest wax and wane during the time.
“When we first started this, we had a lot of buzz, a lot of the contractors and subcontractors and developers, we brought them to the room,” she said. “There was a huge interest, then it kind of died down.
"We picked it back up because we had conversations with the city and county. Then COVID happened and it really died because nobody was getting in the room. Right before COVID happened was when we were having conversations with our church. The church owns quite a bit of property at the Progress Parkway/Parkwood Extension. It’s picking back up that conversation and trying to get that through.”
Mark Marberry is a reporter for the Farmington Press and Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3629, or at firstname.lastname@example.org
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