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WingHaven Residents Voice Concerns With Proposed Air Evac Lifeteam Distribution Center

The company requested a conditional use permit to allow a distribution facility within the Boardwalk Marketplace development.

Editor's Note: This article was updated with more information at 8:45 a.m.

Air Evac Lifeteam announced in June that the company planned to move its headquarters from West Plains, MO to O’Fallon. 

The company provides medical transportation to rural communities, flying critically ill or injured patients to hospitals in 15 states.

The company plans to occupy its new O’Fallon headquarters at 1001 Boardwalk Springs Place, by mid-October, bringing nearly 120 new jobs to the area.

Along with the new headquarters the company has requested a conditional use permit for a distribution center in an adjacent vacant building at 7321 Village Centre Dr.

The distribution center would receive and deliver helicopter parts to other Air Evac locations.

Air Evac Lifeteam President Seth Myers said the helicopter parts are small and most can be held in one hand, while the largest are the size of a small car engine.

The parts would be stored in the back of the building where there are no windows and the work stations and offices would be at the front of the building near the windows along Village Center Drive.

Myers said at Thursday night’s City Council meeting, that the location is a convenient 100 yards from the new O’Fallon headquarters and employees would be able to walk to the distribution center, rather than drive to another spot closer to Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.

But some WingHaven residents say the Boardwalk Marketplace is not the place for a distribution center.

A group of O’Fallon residents who live in WingHaven spoke up at the public hearing on Thursday, expressing concerns with how the center would affect the community’s aesthetics and safety.

Ralph Schaffner said he doesn’t have a problem with the Air Evac Lifeteam, but he’s concerned the location will affect the area that was meant to be a spot to shop and play.

“This doesn’t add value to commercial shops and is not conducive to that area,” Schaffner said.

O’Fallon resident Joyce Selk agreed.

“This distribution center, whatever you want to call it, was not the intended use for that space and that’s why we object,” she said. “There are other places to better accommodate these needs. This is not what we want in the center of our town.”

Steve Dull said he was in favor of Air Evac Lifeteam coming to O’Fallon, but not WingHaven.

Laurie Graves asked the council to have an open mind and listen to what the residents said on Thursday.

“We all moved there for the same reason, so our kids can play, run around and be safe,” Graves said. “We welcome Air Evac, but the distribution center was not intended for that.”

Graves added, residents want to continue seeing the Boardwalk Marketplace grow and thrive.

“With all due respect, I don’t think a distribution center is adding to that,” she said.

Ashley Radky, a local real estate agent, told the council she supports the distribution center coming into the Boardwalk because it is filling a vacancy and providing jobs to the community.

“I see that vacancy and now we have a company that’s willing to come in the community and hire people,” she said. “We need to keep them here.”

On Thursday, Ward 2 Councilman Jim Pepper made a motion to suspend the rules and give the ordinance a second reading so the council could vote on the conditional use permit for the distribution center.

The motion failed with four no votes and five yes. City Attorney Kevin O’Keefe said three council members voting against a second reading is enough to fail according to the city charter.

Ward 1 Councilman Bill Gardner, Ward 3 Councilman Rick Battelle and Ward 5 Councilmen Mike Pheney and Michael Snowden voted against the motion.  Voting for the motion were, Ward 2 Councilmembers Rose Mack and Jim Pepper, Ward 3 Councilman John Haman, Ward 4 Councilmen Jeff Schwentker and Bob Howell. Ward 1 Councilman Rick Lucas was absent at Thursday’s meeting.

The conditional use permit is on the Sept. 27 meeting agenda for second reading and final passage.

To read more, visit the city’s website under the Meeting Agenda section.

 

 

 

Michele September 18, 2012 at 01:05 PM
@Elizabeth - Don't lump all the Winghaven people together. I live in Winghaven and can see this property from my home. I am ALL FOR Air Evac coming to Winghaven and for this empty space being used by them. I have seen a For Lease sign in that window for YEARS. I have news for all the folks that want a market in there... It is not coming. Two have failed (in part because the residents didn't support the businesses) and no one else is coming. This business will be great for our community and add to it. They will be supporters of the other businesses in the area. The article doesn't mention the fact that they plan to use the front window areas of this property as office space. You won't be seeing boxes and helicopter parts through the windows. Many of my neighbors, who would be the most impacted as we can see it from our homes, are all for Air Evac coming. Nothing looks worse than an empty store front!
Elizabeth September 18, 2012 at 01:17 PM
Michele - You're right. My apologies, I spoke out of frustration.
Jordan Lanham September 18, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Michele, you are right, the article does not mention that Air Evac Lifeteam plans to use the front space as offices. That is my error and I apologize. I will update the article now to include this. From the Planning and Zoning Commission report: "To protect the visual character of the Boardwalk Market Place, the applicant only intends to store their inventory in the rear portion of the building where no windows are present. AEL proposes to locate their work stations and offices near the windows along Village Center Drive giving the building more of an office appearance."
Mike Nunnery September 18, 2012 at 03:42 PM
This is good for the city of O'Fallon and is good for Winghaven. It takes a vacant building (4+) years and turns it into an esthetically pleasing rendition in line with its original look!!! The volume of truck traffic is less than what would have been supplying either the grocery store or a restaurant. The needs of the citizens are being preserved while the needs and benefits of a whole city are being met as well. I urge all of our citizens to attend the various board meetings as well as City Council meetings in "total" to know what's really going on in our great city!!! It would truly show your concerns for O'Fallon if you remained for the complete meeting as opposed to just attending to suggest that you are concerned about the issue at hand and then leaving as you did at the last council meeting. I reside in the villages of Dardenne - Prairie Village, but I am a resident of the City of O'Fallon, MO. Please consider the city as a whole and not isolate yourselves on this issue or others in the future. Look forward to your full participation in all things O'Fallon!!!
Heidi L. September 18, 2012 at 11:37 PM
Well said Mr. Nunnery- as an O'Fallon resident I say bring on the business and the jobs!

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