Columbus Day is a public holiday in the United States that commemorates the voyage of Christopher Columbus to the Americas in 1492. Federal observation of the holiday began in 1937 but Americans have been observing the anniversary of the voyage since colonial times.
While the public holiday affords non-essential federal employees and schoolchildren the opportunity to have a day off, virtually no businesses close in observation of the holiday. Many states have decided to remove the holiday from the list of paid holidays that state employees are allowed. There is no mail delivery and banks are closed for business on the holiday.
Today, few festivities are held for Columbus Day although, during the month of October, schools may dedicate lessons to teaching about Christopher Columbus. Most townships and cities across the United States do not have any formal celebrations in place.
Friends & Neighbors
Never a dull moment in Dardenne Prairie! On a happy note, the annual Prairie Day celebration on Saturday the 19th was well attended and a great success. Entertainment and activities for children and adults all day followed by great music and spectacular fireworks in the evening. Many thanks to the City staff who worked so hard to prepare for the event and who carried it off so well on Saturday!
The Board of Aldermen met on Wednesday 9/16 in workshop and regular sessions.
Alderman Doug Santos agreed to stay on as Ward 2 Alderman after we learned that the only person to apply to replace Doug had not resided in the city long enough to qualify. The entire Board is delighted that Alderman Santos will continue his service to the City.
The Board authorized the Mayor to negotiate the sale of a 50 kW chiller unit (the size of 2 or 3 refrigerators) purchased in 2009 for City Hall but never installed. It was to be part of a passive solar energy system that was not properly designed for the building. Several years ago the Board refused to appropriate more money to modify the building and complete the installation of the system. The chiller has been stored in a room since then, serving no purpose. There is a very limited market for this product. The City will advertise the chiller for sale and will reach out to a company that sells and installs solar systems to attempt a consignment sale. The City paid $49,400 for the chiller. We will try to recover as much as we can, but hold little hope that we will come close to full price.
The Board passed an ordinance requiring better notice to the public in advance of changes to zoning or approval of planned unit developments or conditional uses. In addition to required notice in a newspaper (who reads them?) we will post notice on the city website and place signs on property to alert the public that changes in zoning or use or development are to be considered by Planning & Zoning and BOA.
The BOA approved the property tax levy for 2015 at the same rate as last year. (11.59 cents per $100 assessed value, the lowest rate in St. Charles County). Late last week I discovered a memorandum from the State Auditor’s office that calculated the permissible tax rate in light of the 2015 increase in assessed value of real property compared to the low inflation rate. Consequently we will need to pass a new ordinance that establishes a lower tax rate at 11.25 cents per $100 assessed value. This outcome is dictated by state statute. A special session of the BOA will be called this week to get it done.
A controversy has arisen within Public Water Supply District #2 which serves portions of Dardenne Prairie. The PWSD 2 Board of Directors is considering a suggestion (or proposal or plan, depending on who is describing it) to install an alternative sewer system in and around Lake St. Louis. The need for an alternate system is disputed by some residents of Lake St. Louis. The cost to customers of PWSD 2 is also disputed. I have seen reports of an increase of $2 per month and reports of over $20 per month. Because the suggestion (proposal or plan) has not been prepared in detail there is no construction cost estimate. In any event, some residents of Dardenne Prairie may be affected. We will stay on top of this matter and keep you informed.
During the regular meeting a representative from Missouri Thorn, a club providing soccer instruction and competitive play for girls ages 7 to 18, made a brief presentation. His group had recently approached Great Rivers Greenway to inquire if GRG would be open to leasing space in Bluebird Meadow to create more recreational space. The area currently is leased by GRG to a private entity that is operating a sod farm. The Thorn proposes to build, at its own expense, seven grass fields, two for permanent use by the public and five to be used by the Thorn for practice fields (not for games or tournaments). Additional parking would also be built at the Thorn’s expense. There are differing versions of the proposal circulating in social media. Some accounts overstate the size and elaborateness of the proposal. Some accounts misrepresent the extent to which the proposal has supporters or opponents at City Hall. Nothing will be done without full and open discussions and public participation. The land belongs to GRG which has informed us that it would not proceed without City participation. The idea is worth considering: creation of multipurpose outdoor recreational space in a city that is short on such space; a public/private partnership where private funds build the infrastructure and the City manages the space. This matter was first brought to the City’s attention on September 11 when a GRG representative asked if the City was open to hearing about a proposal. The first explanation to the City of the proposal was made Wednesday evening, 9/16. Misinformation about the proposal was distributed in neighborhoods the previous weekend. Please weigh carefully the information that may come to your attention.
The next regular meeting of the Board of Aldermen is scheduled for Wednesday, October 7 beginning at 5:30 PM. Come see your City Government at work!
“Shine a Light on City Government”
DAVID C. ZUCKER
City of Dardenne Prairie, MO
Prairie Day 2015 was a huge success, in large part due to
our generous sponsors.
If your business would like more information on becoming a sponsor for our upcoming Tree of Lights, please contact the Parks office at (636)755-5308.
Public Water Supply District #2 (PWSD#2) is considering implementing a Lake St. Louis Sewer Improvement Program. There is some discrepancy as to the actual cost PWSD#2 customers will incur, and if ALL customers will incur higher rates. There is also debate whether the sewer system is in need of improvement, and if so, what is the most cost effective method of improvement. This debate has been waged in board meetings and by word of mouth.
The PWSD#2 board meets on the first Wednesday of the month at 1p.m. Meetings are held at the PWSD#2 business office, 100 Water Drive, O’Fallon, MO 63368. The next board meeting is October 7th.
A group of residents have called a meeting Wednesday, September 16th, at 7p.m. at the Lake Saint Louis Community Center, 100 Cognac. (Cognac & Rue Grand on the lake) Tonight’s meeting will highlight water and sewer professionals as they give their opinion of the proposed sewer improvement plan.
Another informational meeting will be held on Thursday, October 8th at 7p.m. at the Lake St. Louis Banquet Center, 10604 Veterans Memorial Pkwy, 63367.
Everyone knows “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” and that New York is “the City that never sleeps” but here are a few City mottoes or slogans you may not know:
- The Sweetest Place on Earth—-Hershey, PA
- Experience Our Sense of Yuma—Yuma, AZ
- Where the Trails Start and the Buck Stops— Independence, MO
- Where the People Are Warm Even When the Weather Isn’t—Andover, KS
- Where the Battle Wasn’t—Gettysburg, South Dakota
The City of Dardenne Prairie is called “The City of Possibilities”. Do you think we could use a new motto? Help us compose a new City slogan, motto, or catch phrase. To help you with this quest, keep this in mind; does it inspire people to visit, work, or live here? Does it express Dardenne Prairie’s character? Is it catchy and memorable? Does it highlight our main appeal?
Please submit your idea for the motto or slogan that best fits our City.
Friends & Neighbors,
I hope you all enjoy this Labor Day Weekend as we turn our attention forward to another school year and another October filled with Cardinal Baseball!
The Board of Aldermen workshop and regular meetings on Wednesday, September 2 were largely about discussions and announcements. Dr. Alan Johnson, a resident of Ward 2 and proprietor of O’Fallon Family Dentistry, applied for appointment to fill the Ward 2 seat on the Board of Aldermen vacated by Doug Santos’s resignation on August 19. Dr. Johnson addressed the Board and answered questions during the workshop meeting. No other citizen applied to fill the vacancy. The Board will convene in Special Session on September 16 at 7:00 PM to vote on Dr. Johnson’s appointment.
The City Engineer, Luke Kehoe, presented the bids submitted for work to repair, replace, and seal trails and drainage infrastructure at Dardenne Greenway and Bluebird Meadow Parks. Bids were higher than estimated. The Board will need to consider which bids to accept and will confer with Great Rivers Greenway before awarding any contracts.
Prairie Day At City Hall Park and the Dardenne Athletic Fields on Saturday, September 19 is fast approaching! Activities begin at 11:00 AM; The Family Fun Tent gets started at Noon; Entertainment during the day runs from Noon to 5:00; Evening entertainment begins at 6:00 PM; Fireworks after dark! Vendor booths will be open from 11:00 to 5:00.
The City intends to run water to the irrigation system at the Barathaven soccer fields to allow over seeding and growth of annual grass to extend the useful season of the playing surface. The fields presently consist of Bermuda grass which goes dormant at the end of September. A number of youth teams are looking for more playing time before real cold weather, so the City is looking for ways to meet the growing demand.
The City is looking into reports from the Public Water Supply District #2 that a major sewer construction project is under consideration ($40 million?) which may have some significant impact on the sewer rates paid by residents of Dardenne Prairie who receive sewer service from the District. When we have the facts we will provide them to the public.
The City will contact HOA presidents to invite them to an evening meeting at City Hall with the Board of Aldermen, likely in early November. The Board wants to develop a closer working relationship with all the HOAs in the City.
The City will sponsor a seminar for residents interested in genealogy on a Saturday in November. (Date to be determined). Volunteers will provide research materials and assistance. Access to the internet will be provided. Watch for further details.
The City continues to examine the Uptown Zoning District to ask the questions, do we keep it, shrink it, amend it, or eliminate it? What should we put in its place.? The next informal meeting is scheduled for Monday September 14 at Noon at City Hall.
Planning and Zoning will meet on Wednesday September 9 at 7:00 PM.
Finally, at the regular business meeting the Board approved the appointment of Tom Vonderheid as a Director of the Barathaven Community Improvement District board of directors, replacing Pam Fogarty who resigned in May. Approval of two more appointments was deferred until the September 16 BOA meeting at my request. A citizen had contacted me suggesting that the City might be sued if the Board approved the two other appointments. I asked the board for a two week delay to see if I can head off a lawsuit and thereby save the Dardenne Prairie taxpayers the cost of legal fees to deal with what I believe to be a misguided threat of legal action.
The next BOA meeting is scheduled for September 16, beginning at 5:30 PM. Come see your City government at work!
“Shine a Light on City Government”
DAVID C. ZUCKER
City of Dardenne Prairie, MO
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
The City of Dardenne Prairie encourages all residents to be active in our Community. We have several organizations that are comprised of citizens. Follow this link for applications for various opportunities.
Dardenne Prairie Volunteer Corp
To help our small city staff tackle a host of missions, citizens are encouraged to step forward and join our Volunteer Corp.
We all have busy lives and it is hard to find time for all we want to do. However, volunteering has many benefits, some you may not have even thought about: did you know experts agree volunteering can help you make new friends, learn new skills, and boost your self confidence? It is even thought that people who volunteer actually live longer!
Retirees and senior citizens; high school and college students; church groups and youth groups
Everyone is welcome to apply!
Clearly, your time and talent will have a huge impact on your community. Volunteering allows you to connect to your community and make it a better place, and enables the City to offer events and services that would not be possible otherwise.
The Dardenne Prairie Volunteer Corp includes a roster of our volunteers. It lists the types of task you wish to do, the times you are available and the specific events you wish to work. You may ask to work a set schedule or only certain events, or you may be contacted as the need arises.
If you have a group in need of a service project, give us a call and we will work with your group to see if we have an available project.
The Planning and Zoning Commission
The Planning and Zoning Commission reviews proposed development plans for compliance with applicable regulations, makes recommendations, and reports to the Board of Aldermen. The Planning and Zoning Commission meets on the second Wednesday of the month and is comprised of 7 to 15 members; who are appointed by the Mayor and approved by the Board of Aldermen
The Board of Adjustment
The Board of Adjustment consists of 5 members (and up to 3 alternate members), who are residents of the City. The Board’s duties are to hold hearings and consider requested variances from zoning regulations, on a case by case basis. Meetings shall be held at the call of the Chairman and determined by need.
Adopt A Street Program
The City’s program gives individuals and groups an opportunity to support anti-litter and beautification efforts by adopting a section of City roadway for the purpose of litter collection. Adopters are requested to adopt a ½ to 2 miles section of City road for a minimum period of two (2) years. Litter should be collected from the adopted road as needed. Adopt-A-Roadway signs, including the adopters’ name, will be installed along each of the adopted sections. Vests, trash bags and trash collection tools will be provided by the City for use during clean-up sessions.
“It may be true that no one person can solve all the world’s problems, but what you can do is make that little corner of the world where you live just that little bit better.”
It seems in this day of technology, we should not have a problem with sharing information. The options are nearly endless! In fact there may be too many options. Some people will look on the website, some people will read hard copy newspapers and magazine, some people will only read what is mailed to their home. We need your help in determining the best way to keep you informed.
The City currently publishes a newsletter 4 times a year in the Mid Rivers News Magazine. We have a Facebook account and of course, our website. We send several flyers out via the USPS throughout the year listing upcoming events and we also have flyers available at City Hall.
It would be helpful if you could take a moment to give us your opinion:
- Do you read the newsletter in the Mid Rivers News Magazine? If so do you enjoy it? What do you like or dislike about it? What would you like to see in it that it is currently missing? Would you prefer to see the newsletter in another format?
- If we sent you mail through the USPS, would you be more likely to keep it and refer to it for our events?
- Where do you usually look to find out what events are happening throughout St. Charles County?
- Would you be interested in receiving “e-mail blasts”? If you sign up on our e-mail list, we will send you e-mails announcing meetings, events, and news. What type of information would you be interested in receiving through e-mail?
- Are you active in Facebook?
- What would you like to see on our website? How often do you check our website?
- Is there anything else you would like to tell us concerning communication?
Thank you for your time and ideas.
Friends & Neighbors,
The Dardenne Prairie Board of Aldermen met in workshop and regular sessions tonight, 8/19. Here is a summary of those meetings.
The BOA heard a presentation from Ms. Joy Howard, the city’s financial advisor for bond issues and like. She reported that the City’s Moody credit rating is AA2 which is pretty good! The reason for the high rating is the favorable ratio of cash reserves to debt, operating expenses, and/or projected revenue. That said, the City needs to have a Reserve Policy and an Investment Policy to determine how much money should be held in cash and how much can be invested in short term or intermediate term interest bearing T-bills or bonds. The city has long term debt over $4 million and a cash reserve of $3.4 million. What we need to do next is to develop a capital expenditure plan for 3 to 5 years to budget for infrastructure costs, over and above operating expenses. That will guide us to develop a plan to maintain an appropriate level of cash reserves and an appropriate level of investments in interest bearing accounts. Presently the City holds its $3.4 million reserves in accounts that earn 0.01% interest. We should have some of that in US Treasuries earning about 2% or more while protecting principal.
The BOA received a report regarding employee health insurance premiums for 2016. I am happy to report that we will remain at almost exactly the level of expense as 2015. Next year we may need to consider some changes when the impact of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) may kick in (if not delayed again by executive order).
The BOA received nominations for three new members of the Barathaven Community Improvement District Board of Directors: Craig Stankovich, Michael Luna and Tom Vonderheid, all residents and property owners in the Barathaven subdivision. Their nominations will be presented to the Board for approval in the regular business meeting on September 2.
Several citizens spoke concerning the regulation of chickens in Dardenne Prairie. There were several proposals to address the conflict between the zoning code which permits chickens on parcels of one acre in the R-1A zoning district and the animal regulation code that permits chickens only on parcels greater than 3 acres. Until just about one month ago nobody in the City had complained about chickens although citizens have kept chickens for years, even on parcels smaller than one acre. There was an interesting discussion about the philosophy of government. Should the City design a regulatory scheme to limit the number of chickens or the manner in which they are housed or the placement of chicken coops in relation to property lines or whether to “grandfather” existing flocks and prohibit new flocks. Or, on the other hand, to restrain the heavy hand of government from restricting individual freedom in the absence of actual evidence of injury to the public health safety and welfare. Besides, have you seen the price of eggs lately? The BOA voted to repeal the code section in the animal regulation chapter that prohibits chickens in parcels smaller than 3 acres. The BOA left intact the provision of the zoning code that authorizes chickens in the R-1A residential zoning district. The Board decided to wait to see if any complaints come in concerning chickens kept on residential parcels smaller than one acre. If we have not heard any complaints in the past why would we construct a regulatory regime to prohibit something that is not creating a problem? The conditions, covenants and restrictions (CCR) in individual subdivisions that prohibit keeping chickens remain in force.
The BOA held a public hearing concerning the proposal to declare a moratorium on approving development in the Uptown Zoning District while the City revisits the wisdom of that zoning classification. Last week the Planning & Zoning Commission voted unanimously to table the moratorium. After listening to several property owners in the Uptown District tonight the BOA also decided to table the moratorium. As one citizen said, the building code requirements of the Uptown District have created a moratorium on development for the past 8 or 9 years. The City will, however, proceed to hold public meetings to discuss what changes, if any, should be made to the Uptown District. Watch for announcements of meetings in the near future.
Sadly, I must report that Alderman Doug Santos announced his intention to resign from the Board of Aldermen to spend more time with his family. In his announcement tonight he alluded to some health issues concerning his son. We all commend Alderman Santos for his service to our community and for his willingness to devote time, energy and resources to the people of Dardenne Prairie. We wish him and his family well. We hope for a bright future for his family. I will miss his wise counsel and light hearted sense of humor. If circumstances change and he has time once again to dedicate to the people of Dardenne Prairie we will welcome him back to City Government.
Anyone living in Ward 2 who would like to be considered for appointment to fill the unexpired term of Alderman Santos may submit an Application for Boards and Commissions. Applicants should have their forms in to the City Clerk by August 27 to be placed on the Agenda for the BOA workshop meeting on September 2. Please come to the September workshop at 5:30 PM to address the BOA concerning your desire to serve the community. The BOA will fill the vacancy at a special meeting on September 16 at 7:00 PM.
The next meeting of the BOA is scheduled for Wednesday, September 2, beginning at 5:30 PM. The next meeting of the Planning & Zoning Commission is scheduled for Wednesday, September 9 at 7:00 PM. Come see your City Government at work!
“Shine a Light on City Government”
DAVID C. ZUCKER
City of Dardenne Prairie, MO