Rolla Mayor Louis Magdits IV assured a group of residents worried about the effect a shopping center—and the increased traffic to and from it—would have on their quiet lifestyle that no plan has been adopted by the council yet.

Rolla Mayor Louis Magdits IV assured a group of residents worried about the effect a shopping center—and the increased traffic to and from it—would have on their quiet lifestyle that no plan has been adopted by the council yet.
And he promised on the record that they would be kept fully informed of future meetings relating to that plan.
“We’re working through the process,” Magdits told the residents of Bluebird Lane, Vista Drive and Hyer Court, a 12-house neighborhood across Interstate 44 from Phelps County Regional Medical Center, who used the “citizen communication” time on the agenda to tell the Rolla City Council Monday night their concerns about the proximity of Westside Marketplace to their homes, as well as the related street construction that will be necessary to move traffic to that planned shopping center.
The residents indicated they were alarmed at what they saw on maps and aerial photographs shown at the Sept. 14 open house that was part of the major transportation study conducted by the HNTB consulting firm.
Of major concern were the planned construction of an outer road, the possible construction of an overpass at 10th Street and eventual extension of that street.
“The proposal will affect the value of our homes and will change the character of our neighborhood,” said Diane Howard, a Vista Drive resident and the first of several who eventually spoke.
Councilman Brian Woolley then asked Public Works Director Steve Hargis about the timeline for those changes. Hargis said, “It really doesn’t have a timeline.”
And Magdits said, “There is no plan on the table.” He stressed there are projects amounting to $30 million to $50 million that will take 10 years to build out.
Woolley then asked if an overpass could be redesigned to move it farther south rather than at 10th Street. Hargis said the developer of Westside Marketplace, UTW Realty, which is helping to pay for the HNTB transportation study, had indicated in meetings that such a move would be preferable. Besides, he said, the Missouri State Highway Patrol is “not excited” about a 10th Street overpass due to the location of the Troop I headquarters.
Hargis said the top priorities are the Highway 72 extension, the pedestrian bridge at Highway E for students and the addition of lanes to Kingshighway. The outer road construction is not a priority, he said.
Councilman Don Morris attempted to offer some comfort to the residents, reiterating that the developer had indicated to Hargis that the outer road construction is not a priority and the overpass could be moved farther south.
“Doesn’t that address your major concerns?” he asked the residents, and they nodded.
But Magdits quickly cautioned making any definitive statements about the plan at this time because there is no plan, he said; there is only the draft that was presented to the open house meeting last week.
“We better wait for the final report,” he said.
Charlotte Ekker Wiggins, of Bluebird Lane, spoke to the council, asking about why buffers do not appear to be included in the plans to separate the residential housing area from the proposed Westside Marketplace or between the residences and the possible outer road.
Wiggins also noted that the hospital and Missouri University of Science and Technology, partners with the city and UTW in paying for the transportation study, own much property on the other side of the interstate between the 184- and 185-mile markers, so perhaps they would be willing to see that an outer road is constructed on that side of the highway.
There was also a question of the “transparency” of the planning. Paul Block, a neighborhood resident, said he had not received any notification of the open house meeting and would not have known about it had he not heard about it from a contractor at Waffle House.
Earl Richards, who has lived in that neighborhood more than 50 years, questioned the council about the purpose of the overpass, which will result in taking out his house.
He also said that he and his wife had made a pact in 2000 that they would die in that house. She passed away four years later. He’s still living there and hopes to be there for his 100th birthday in eight years.
Bonnie Cox, a Hyer Court resident, said she and her husband bought a home in that neighborhood because it was in the city but had “a country feel,” important to them because they have two daughters.
Cox said changing it, increasing the traffic, will make the neighborhood just like the area from which they moved.
Wiggins said the neighbors will meet with the developer in October, and she invited all the council members to attend that meeting.
After the discussion of the transportation study subsided, resident Tom Sager who had already spoken to the council returned to the microphone and eventually a shouting match developed.
Sager had preceded the concerned neighbors in the use of the open microphone portion of the agenda.
Sager, who at the last council meeting had criticized the entire council, along with City Administrator John Butz and City Counselor Lance Thurman, for placing a parks tax question on the November 2014 ballot that was not legal, because a similar tax question had been asked of the voters in April of that year, less than the 12-month required waiting period.
That resulted in an election expense to the city of approximately $18,000, Sager said, and he demanded at the previous meeting that the council pay that money back.
Monday night, he excluded Councilman Matt Miller, who was absent at the time the vote was taken to place the tax question on the ballot, and he also excused councilmen Matthew Crowell, Steven Jung and John Muesch from that payback demand because they were not on the council at the time.
He repeated his demand that the rest of the council, plus the administrator and counselor, pay back the money.
Magdits ended, or attempted to end, Sager’s presentation after the three-minute time limit. He went about another minute before sitting down, giving the neighborhood group an opportunity to speak to the council.
After they were done, Sager returned to the microphone and asked the mayor if he would allow him next time to speak longer than 3 minutes as the mayor had done for the neighbors.
“Maybe,” said the mayor.
“That’s the answer I would expect out of you, Lou,” Sager said, and he again demanded that the $18,000 be repaid.
The mayor asked Sager if he had ever made a mistake, and then the verbiage escalated. Councilman Monty Jordan weighed in on the verbal fray.
As it progressed and the voices got louder, Police Chief Sean Fagan stood up at the back of the council chambers.
“Stretching your legs?” the mayor said.
“Yes,” said the chief.
The words stopped being thrown back and forth when the mayor said to Sager, “We made a mistake.”
The council then went into closed session to discuss litigation.
Sager and Fagan exchanged pleasantries, of a sort, on the way out the door.