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Crestwood Smart Growth Alliance Chairman Kelley Isherwood of Oakville reacts to aldermen's comments during a Crestwood Board of Aldermen meeting last week. Bill Milligan photo (click for larger version)

Crestwood board approves issuance of TIF notes for redevelopment project

An ordinance authorizing the issuance of up to $2.285 million in tax-increment financing notes for the Kohl's redevelopment project at the northwest corner of Watson and Sappington roads recently was approved by the Crestwood Board of Aldermen.

Aldermen voted unanimously last week to adopt the ordinance authorizing of the issuance of the TIF notes, which was required under the terms of a redevelopment agreement between the city and THF Realty, the developer for the Kohl's project.

Kohl's Department Store opened last fall, more than six years after the city initiated efforts to redevelop the 7.24-acre site at the northwest corner of Watson and Sappington roads.

Under the terms of the redevelopment agreement, THF Realty is eligible to be reimbursed for such costs as land acquisition, environmental remediation and demolition, relocation assistance for businesses previously located at the corner, and TIF costs, including professional and legal fees. As of early March, THF Realty had submitted costs totaling $2,223,770.73 for reimbursement.

In an April 27 memorandum to the Board of Aldermen, City Administrator Don Greer wrote, "The notes essentially represent an IOU from the TIF project to the developer. It is anticipated that TIF bonds will be issued once the project has an established revenue history. This is expected to occur by late fall or early winter.''

During a discussion of the ordinance April 27, Ward 1 Alderman Richard LaBore said, "... (City Attorney) Mr. (Rob) Golterman and Mr. Greer, help me and again for the public record, are we at a point where we are obligated to do this?''

Golterman said, "Right. According to the redevelopment agreement, pursuant to which the Kohl's was developed, we are now in the position where we need to have these notes issued.''

Greer explained, "This is not a debt of the city. The TIF proceeds pay these off. So the city is one of the taxing entities that doesn't receive some of the funds for this, so it delays the receipt of some new revenue, but it's not an out-of-pocket cost.''

Before board members voted to approve the ordinance, a heated exchange took place between city officials and Crestwood Smart Growth Alliance Chairman Kelley Isherwood of Oakville, who previously has questioned the legality of the TIF project.

During the Dec. 9 board meeting, Isherwood alleged the process used to redevelop the corner was illegal and pledged to "challenge it from this point forward.''

During the April 27 meeting, Isherwood asked, "Is this public comment?''

Acting Mayor Richard Breeding said, "Sure.''

Isherwood said, "Could you tell me what the categories of expenses are in the TIF ...''

Breeding then asked Isherwood to come to the podium and identify himself for the record.

Isherwood said, "My name is Kelley Isherwood. I'm with the Crestwood Smart Growth Alliance and I've been here before to question this Kohl's TIF project and I would like to know what the expenditures are for the $2.285 million. Do you have a list of that?''

Greer replied, "Yes.''

Isherwood interjected, "Here? The expenditures, listed?''

Greer said, "That information was presented ...''

Isherwood interrupted, "Is it on your Web site?''

Greer said, "I don't know ...''

Isherwood again interrupted, "How do I get the information?''

Ward 2 Alderman Tim Trueblood said, "Shut up and listen, why don't you and maybe he'll tell you. Thank you, go ahead Mr. Greer.''

Isherwood continued, "We're talking $2.285 million ...''

Trueblood said, "We're talking about you who can't ....''

Isherwood said, "And I'm asking you what you spent the money on.''

Breeding said, "He'd be glad to answer the question.''

Trueblood said, "Give him a chance, sir.''

Greer said, "We didn't spend the money to begin with and that information ...''

Isherwood again interrupted, "The (TIF) district. What did the district spend the money on?''

Greer said, "You know, you want to argue or you want to listen? I'm trying to give you an answer, Mr. Isherwood. The list? The list was presented in the operations report ...''

Once more Isherwood interrupted, "To whom and where is it shown?''

Greer continued, "It was presented in the operations report to the Board of Aldermen, which is a public document, several weeks ago.''

Isherwood said, "Is it on the Web site?''

Greer replied, "I don't know. Have we put it on the Web site?''

Isherwood said, "My only question — I'm not a Board of Aldermen member and I want this information.''

Breeding said, "Sure.''

Isherwood continued, "The citizens should want this information.''

City Clerk Carol Schneiderhahn said she would be more than happy to check and make sure the document was on the city's Web site. If the document was not posted, the city clerk said she would make sure it was available.

Greer said, "OK.''

Breeding said, "With all due respect, Mr. Isherwood, we're doing our best to keep this professional ...''

Isherwood again interjected, "Just give me the information.''

Breeding said, "Well, I'm trying to be rational here. I'm not going to say anything against you, sir. I'm just saying we'd like to keep this rational debate going and we invite public comment ...''

Isherwood again interrupted, "That's as rational as I can be.''

Breeding said, "OK.''

Isherwood continued, "I want the information.''

Breeding said, "OK. With all due respect, when you come up here and treat the board with that disrespect, then it doesn't create any kind of culture we're looking for.''

Isherwood said, "How was I disrespectful? I asked you for the information. I want to know where it's posted.''

Breeding said, "Well, you gave no one a chance to respond before you yelled back another comment.''

The audio system in the Aldermanic Chambers was cutting in and out throughout most of the meeting, and a man from the audience said, "Your microphone is messed up.''

Breeding said, "Yeah, I'm sorry.''

Isherwood said, "I can't hear you half the time, so I'm sorry.''

Breeding said, "OK. Well, I'm sorry too, but I would just appreciate a little more respect from you. I'm so glad to answer your questions and I don't deny anything you and your organization do.''

Isherwood said, "Do I get an answer?''

Breeding said, "Yeah, we said we'd get that to you.''

Isherwood said, "Oh.''

Breeding said, "And I think we have your, I think we have your address and we'll get that to you.''

Trueblood said, "I"d like to know what the membership roll of the Crestwood Smart Growth Alliance is as promised to this board in July of 2003.''

Breeding said, "Been noted, thank you.''

Trueblood said, "You're welcome.''

Ward 3 Alderman Don Maddox said to Isherwood, "What was just stated is correct. There was a detailed list of the expenditures that was provided to the board.

"I reviewed them in detail and then went over them with (Assistant to the City Administrator Mr. (Matt) Conley and found that they were appropriate. That list, as they said, will be posted on the Web site and you will have it shortly ...,'' he added.

During the July 22 board meeting, Trueblood asked Isherwood for a list of members of the Crestwood Smart Growth Alliance.

Isherwood replied, "I don't have it now. We're just in the process of organizing. I would be happy to provide you that list. At this point, the first item on our agenda was at least making the (Crestwood-Sunset Hills Area) Chamber of Commerce aware of what's happening and we did put a four-page document in the Chamber of Commerce newsletter. That was the first thing we wanted to do and the next thing is we're organizing citizens. I have a sign-up sheet. I'm going to request that they sign these sheets and I'll be happy to provide the list. I am contacting people who are concerned about Crestwood.''

Since then, however, Isherwood has refused repeated requests to make public the membership list of the Crestwood Smart Growth Alliance.

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