It’s time for the healing to start in Sunset Hills

When two Sunset Hills’ ordinances related to the Novus Development Co’s. proposed MainStreet at Sunset were declared void last week by St. Louis County Circuit Judge Gloria Clark Reno, she wasn’t the first to conclude the development was not a good idea.

The first people to conclude that Novus’ proposal was a bad idea was a majority of the city’s Tax Increment Financing Commission.

The panel voted 6-5 to recommend rejection of the Novus’ controversial request for $42 million in TIF assistance to construct a $163.9 million shopping center. Just as stunning as the amount of TIF assistance being requested was the fact that the commission recommended against the proposal.

That never happens. In the past, we’ve compared the TIF process to a runaway freight train that is going so fast no one is able to stop it — especially the public. Opponents are run over by the out-of-control freight train speeding toward approval of the TIF.

But for once the system worked — only to be overturned by the Board of Aldermen. You have to wonder whose interests the Board of Alder-men had in mind when it overrode the TIF Commission’s recommendation not to approve the project.

And for a time, perhaps, it seemed that a majority of Sunset Manor residents wanted the project to go forward. They had signed contracts to sell their homes to Novus. But that began to unravel in August.

Closings on the more than 200 homes were scheduled to begin Aug. 22. But Novus learned Aug. 18 its lender had withdrawn its funding for the development and the closings were delayed until a new lender could be secured. Since then, Novus has continued searching for financing, but has been unable to find a new lender.

It’s easy to be a Monday-morning quarterback, but the damage that has been done to people’s lives as a result of this fiasco is incalculable. And what began as a trickle of lawsuits involving the redevelopment project now is a torrential rain of litigation.

This newspaper calls on the Board of Aldermen to do what it can to protect the interests of the people it is supposed to serve and protect.

Even if the board is unsure of what the legal ramifications may be in any course of action, it is not too late for Sunset Hills to begin protecting the interests of its residents and try to make them whole again.