Furrer to wait until after election to fill chairman’s seat on planning panel

Aldermen reject mayor’s appointment of Hardy to seat

Frank Hardy

Frank Hardy

By Gloria Lloyd

Sunset Hills Mayor Mark Furrer plans to wait until after next month’s municipal election to fill a key expired seat on the Planning and Zoning Commission.

The mayor’s decision comes after the Board of Aldermen recently ejected Furrer’s nomination of a former alderman for the seat, since he believes aldermen would likely reject any of his nominations.

For that reason, Furrer said he will not nominate anyone to replace Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Nick Dragan when the board meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 10, at City Hall, 3939 S. Lindbergh Blvd.

“I will wait until after the April 7th election,” Furrer wrote in an email to the Call. “I would rather not let the board embarrass any other citizen willing to serve.”

Three incumbent aldermen are up for re-election next month, including acting board President Scott Haggerty of Ward 2, Ward 1 Alderman Dee Baebler and Ward 4 Alderman Pat Fribis. In addition, the city’s longest-serving alderman, Jan Hoffmann of Ward 3, is not running again for her seat and is retiring from the board.

At the Feb. 10 board meeting, aldermen voted 6-2 against Furrer’s nomination of former Ward 1 Alderman Frank Hardy to replace Dragan on the Planning and Zoning Commission, with Ward 2 Alderman Tom Musich and Ward 4 Alderman Donna Ernst in favor. The board voted 6-2 to approve Furrer’s appointment of Tom Lynch to replace Nancy Goldkuhl on the Planning and Zoning Commission, with Baebler and Ward 3 Alderman Kurt Krueger dissenting.

When Furrer defeated former Mayor Bill Nolan last year, he promised to replace city committee members who are “firmly entrenched in Bill Nolan’s philosophy.” Dragan and Goldkuhl were both appointed by Nolan.

Hardy served six years as an alderman after he was elected following the Novus Development Co.’s failed development that would have razed 254 homes in his subdivision, Sunset Manor, also serving as acting board president. He was defeated by Ward 1 Alderman Richard Gau in 2012 and unsuccessfully ran for his old seat against Baebler in 2013.

Hardy, 67, is an Internet consultant for I-Site Creations Inc. His wife, Phillis, formerly served as city collector.

As aldermen have discussed impeaching Furrer in the six months since he was charged with two felonies for allegedly running his car into a bicyclist, some residents have brought up a 2011 recording Hardy and resident Kathy Tripp made of Gau talking about the Petro Mart next to Sunset Manor. Some have questioned whether voting on it was a conflict of interest for Gau, who owns a company that sells parts that are used in automatic car washes.

At the time of the December 2012 vote, City Attorney Robert E. Jones told Gau that the indirect business relationship did not rise to a conflict of interest.

Hardy recorded Gau without his knowledge, and Tripp later publicized the recording.

When discussion opened about Hardy, Hoffmann moved to table the discussion so aldermen could look at Hardy’s resume, which had not been provided.

“He’s had a long esteemed career in Sunset Hills, which I guess Jan is having a hard time remembering,” Furrer said, asking Jones, “Has this ever occurred for someone of the character of Mr. Hardy? I mean, this is embarrassing for a man that I’ve appointed.”

The same thing happened when Hardy was on the board, Fribis noted. After Nolan was elected as mayor while he was a Ward 1 alderman, he appointed Baebler to take his place, but Hardy voted with most of the board 6-1 against her appointment, with aldermen noting that they felt Nolan did not give them enough information about her up front. Her appointment was approved 5-2 the next week, with Hardy in favor.

Hardy was also the sole vote against current Finance Committee member Ken Conley’s appointment in 2011, because he did not believe that Conley had the financial background needed to serve on that committee.

But at last month’s vote, Hardy was impatient when aldermen he served alongside asked to see his resume.

An upset Hardy yelled to Fribis, “What would you like to know, Pat? … I’ve been to more P and Z (Planning and Zoning) meetings than all of you combined.”

“I think he’s overqualified,” Ernst said of Hardy.

The skeptical reception Hardy received from most aldermen did not go over well with the contingent of Furrer supporters at the meeting, who urged the board to approve Hardy rather than tabling the issue.

“Quit wasting mine and my son’s time, for Christ’s sake,” Furrer’s neighbor and campaign manager Keith Meier yelled from the audience. “Step off, get it done, call a vote. Vote!”

“I’d like to see your resume,” Furrer told Fribis.

Aldermen unanimously approved new regulations on committees and committee appointments, which Furrer called the “We-Don’t-Want-the-Mayor-to-Appoint-People-Anymore Bill” when Gau first proposed them in January. Gau based his suggestions on similar rules in Kirkwood.

On Musich’s suggestion, aldermen amended Gau’s proposed rules to require that committee members be residents and that aldermen could recommend potential appointees, instead of the original wording that stated aldermen “shall” give recommendations on nominees.

In other business Feb. 10, Public Works Committee Chairman Musich proposed four initiatives recommended by the committee in a meeting that directly preceded the board meeting.

Aldermen unanimously approved loaning a bucket truck to Crestwood, which the city has done every few years. Jones agreed, pending an indemnification agreement protecting Sunset Hills from liability since a Crestwood employee would be operating the truck.

“It’s for the city of Crestwood and we want to be good neighbors, but we don’t want to overextend our liability,” Musich said.

Musich also asked aldermen for their feedback on a supplemental agreement to the sidewalk project on West Watson Road that would switch proposed sidewalks from the north side to the south side of Watson, at an additional cost of $7,000. The city is only paying 20 percent of that cost, and the rest is federally funded.

Equipment purchases of $24,000 for the Public Works Department passed unanimously, as did a $2,000 refundable application fee for a sidewalk grant.