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Planning panel chairman's comments inappropriate, according to Campisi

The St. Louis County Planning Commission chairman "doesn't know what he's talking about," County Councilman John Campisi, R-south county, told the Call.

Recent comments made by Doug Morgan, the commission's chairman, regarding a county restriction on trash-transfer stations were inappropriate, Campisi contends.

Despite the comments, Campisi agrees with a recent Planning Commission decision to deny a Fred Weber rezoning request in order to establish a trash-transfer station in south county — just one of the reasons Campisi asked councilmen to drop the request from any future agendas. Councilmen unanimously approved Campisi's motion during their May 25 meeting.

The need for a trash-transfer station will not go away if the County Council ignores Fred Weber's current rezoning request for its Oakville trash-transfer station proposal, a company attorney told the Call.

Gary Feder of Husch & Eppenberger, an attorney representing Fred Weber, said he is urging councilmen to soon introduce legislation regarding the company's request to rezone part of its south quarry for industrial use so that it can construct a trash-transfer station.

Councilmen received the Planning Commission's report recommending denial of the request during their May 25 meeting, starting the clock for a 90-day deadline in which respective legislation must be drafted or the request automatically will be denied as a result of the council's inaction.

However, Campisi told the Call he requested that the commission's report be dropped from the council's agenda because he agrees with the commission's denial recommendation.

Fred Weber is seeking to rezone a 24.9-acre tract to the Flood-Plain Planned Industrial District from the Flood-Plain Non-Urban District, located in the company's south quarry. The tract is about 300 feet southeast of Baumgartner Road, east of the Burlington Railroad and bounded by the Meramec River to the southwest.

The planning department and the Planning Commission report indicates that denial was recommended because the transfer station would have been too close to the Meramec River, Mattese Creek and both entities did not want to set a precedent by permitting industrial uses in the south quarry.

Fred Weber's south quarry site concerns Campisi because the area is flood-prone, he said, noting that it already has been under water at least twice in 2004.

"That's a concern to me," he said, agreeing with the Planning Commission's reasons for denial. "I'm worried about the contamination into Mattese Creek and the river."

But he did not agree with some of the comments made during a May commission meeting set to discuss the rezoning request, he said.

While Mike Zeek, county planner, was quick to note during a May 10 commission meeting that Fred Weber's application would not violate the county's 1,000-foot regulation, he told commissioners he believed that the ordinance was "not an effective means of siting trash-transfer stations and recommend that this rule be re-examined."

Campisi last fall authored legislation that now prohibits any waste-processing facility, including trash-transfer stations from being developed within 1,000 feet of residences, churches, schools or adult- and child-care facilities.

Morgan told Zeek May 10, "We have an ordinance that is ineffective is what we're saying and so I mean, you know, that's how we got ... into this situation ... We had an ineffective, improper ordinance brought to us and I commend you for coming forward and saying it's not well-thought and well-done ..."

Morgan also said, "I have something I'm going to say, maybe I shouldn't, but I'm going to. I think Fred Weber in the community took a beating that wasn't really justified ... I think they've been a good corporate citizen for years. I don't know what their motives were.

"Obviously anybody who goes into a business is in it to make money, so I don't know if that necessarily makes them bad people. But I understand for people this was an issue that was really very near to their hearts and I understand that and I appreciate it, I just hate to see so much negative ..."

Despite a recent County Circuit Court judge's ruling that the 1,000-foot restriction was "illegally enacted," Campisi told the Call he believes that the ordinance is a valid piece of legislation and that Morgan's comments were inappropriate.

"The judge didn't give reasons why the ordinance wasn't valid," Campisi said. "I obviously disagree with Doug Morgan. Doug Morgan should be concentrating on the types of developments that come through.

"He doesn't know anything about legislation. The county counselors do ... He's obviously on the side of Fred Weber ... I don't know what kinds of friends they are or anything, but he needs to focus his energy on looking at the types of projects that come through before the commission and look at how they fit into the community ... Doug Morgan doesn't know what he's talking about when it comes to legislation."

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