Despite the misgivings of three members, the Rolla City Council Monday night approved an ordinance promising Brewer Science Inc. the city will write restrictive covenants on property to be developed at Rolla National Airport where Brewer is working on a major expansion.
Moreover, the council agreed to get Brewer’s permission before it adopts those covenants.
“Whose land is it?” asked an irritated Councilman J.D. Williams, who in the final vote, 8-1, was the lone holdout. “Why should we have to jump through the hoops of Brewer Science?”
City Administrator John Butz said Brewer Science is making “a significant investment” on 10 acres at the airport. Brewer will be the first of what the city hopes will be multiple companies building factories, warehouses, processing plants and distribution sites at the airport in Maries County.
Brewer wants assurances that the city will make decisions that will lead to quality developments, Butz said, adding that Brewer needs the assurances in writing because the investment is at such a level that a handshake and a promise aren’t enough.
What the council adopted on first and final readings, after a hiccup, was an ordinance directing Mayor Bill Jenks to sign an amendment to the lease agreement the city has with Brewer for 10 acres at the airport.
Called the “First Amendment” of the ground lease, indicating more are on the way, the amendment clarifies that Brewer Science had notified the city that the original lease was conditional on a promise the city had made that it would draft “site use restrictions and site appearance conditions ..no less protective of (Brewer’s) leasehold interest than those restrictions and conditions contained in that declaration” made in July 1970 that set down land use restrictions at the Hy Point Industrial Park.
The amendment requires that the city plat the area Brewer is leasing, as well as the other areas that will be in the “Site Restrictive Area” as quickly as possible. Once the platting is done, the city must adopt by ordinance a new set of site use restrictions and “moreover before enacting such legally binding authority (the city) shall obtain (Brewer’s) consent to such authority … “
As long as the city adopts site use rules that are as restrictive as the Hy Point Industrial Park rules, Brewer may not withhold its consent or permission, the amendment notes.
Opening the discussion of the amendment, Butz noted Brewer is making a $12-$15 million investment at the airport and needs the restrictions to assure that the city will not try to put a low-quality business out there.
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Councilman Louis Magdits objected to the timing of the amendment, saying that the city had waited for many months for Brewer to sign the lease agreement. He suggested Brewer could wait 30-60 days while the city comes up with a set of covenants specific to the airport.
Citing the Hy Point Industrial Park rules is “a stopgap measure” and “a shoddy way” of coming up with good regulations, Magdits said, so Brewer should accept the council’s word that covenants are on the way.
“They want something more definitive,” Butz said.
When it came time to read the ordinance, a motion was made after the first reading to suspend the rules and hear the final reading. Magdits voted against that.
After the final reading, Magdits, Williams and Councilman Kelly Long voted against its adoption.
Three council members, William Lindgren, Monty Jordan and Tony Bahr were absent.
That meant only six of the 12 council members voted for it: Greg Sawyer, Steven Leonard, Sue Eudaly, Don Morris, Carrolyn Bolin and Fran Mazanec.
That was the hiccup, for a vote of seven members is required, and the ordinance failed.
“It invalidates the lease with Brewer Science,” Butz declared after the vote.
There was some silence, then Councilwoman Eudaly said, “Guys, is this what you want?”
More discussion ensued.
Magdits finally relented, although he said “it concerns me that one company” is given such power over what the city can do in the future at the airport.
Noting that the mayor had indicated Brewer is concerned that a future council might authorize a salvage yard there, Magdits asked what would the city do if it had the opportunity for an aircraft salvage operation that paid good wages with high employment.
Butz said there are other locations outside the Site Restrictive Area that would not be under the control of covenants authorized by the city in conjunction with Brewer.
Magdits entered a motion to reconsider the ordinance for final reading. He and Long changed their votes, passing it.