Crestwood Board of Aldermen nixes EZ Storage’s tax-abatement request

Board votes to OK upgrade to city’s Reverse 911 system

By Gloria Lloyd

The Crestwood Board of Aldermen recently rejected a company’s request for a tax abatement related to a new development and a business owner’s appeal for a sign variance.

Representatives from EZ Storage, which plans to open a self-storage facility in Crestwood, asked the board for a five-year tax break due to unforeseen extra costs during construction of the $3 million development, which is being built on a previously vacant lot at 9900 Big Bend Blvd.

The project would move forward even without the $172,000 requested tax abatement, EZ Storage representatives told the board. The company receives similar tax breaks in Detroit and the city of St. Louis.

“What I’m asking for is a public-private partnership to cover these extraordinary expenses,” said Tim Ray, from the law firm Armstrong and Teasdale.

Ward 1 Alderman Richard Breeding made a motion to approve a memorandum of understanding, which failed to receive a second.

Also on May 28, the board voted 4-3 to deny an appeal of a sign variance with Ward 1 Aldermen Darryl Wallach and Breeding opposed. Ward 2 Alderman Mary Stadter and Ward 4 Alderman Dan Tennessen were absent.

Larry Sturm, owner of A to Z Auto Repair, requested an appeal on the city’s Sign Commission’s rejection of a variance on a sign that covers the windows at his shop.

The Sign Commission voted to recommend rejection of the request at its April 10 meeting.

Sturm’s request required five aldermen present to override the Sign Commission’s recommendation.

The sign, made of a sun-shade material, covers all of Sturm’s shop windows, with printing taking up about a fourth of the windows. The signs, in place for a year, have cut down on sun streaming into the shop and reduced the shop’s heating and cooling expenses, Sturm noted. The sun coming through the windows in the afternoon hours is “unbearable,” he added.

“It acts basically as a blind and an ad at the same time,” he said.

Under the city’s current sign ordinance, which was adopted in 2005, signs cannot exceed more than one-fourth of the area of a window.

At the request of Board President Tim Trueblood of Ward 2, City Administrator Mark Sime agreed to conduct a complete survey of business signs around the city and report back to the board.

The board also voted unanimously to approve an upgrade to the city’s existing Reverse 911 emergency notification system. Currently, residents can register their phone numbers to be contacted in an emergency, and the city uses eight of its own telephone lines to make the emergency calls, a process that takes more than two days to make 5,000 calls.

In the new system with Cassidian Communications, the company will use its own phone lines, which will enable calls to be made faster and allow the city to stop paying for the phone lines it currently uses for the service.

After an initial expense this year to get the system up and running, the city will see net savings of $4,000 annually beginning next year.