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City denies special use permit to reptile rescue operation

The Jackson City Hall Board Room where the Mayor and Board of Aldermen meet was nearly empty April 6 as the Board met for the first time by teleconference because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mayor Dwain Hahs was flanked by Aldermen Larry Cunningham and Dave Reiminger. A couple of other city staff people were in the room off camera. The remainder of the eight aldermen were home.

The meeting was webcast using Zoom on YouTube at

On a vote of 2-6, the Board of Aldermen denied a special use permit for a reptile rescue organization as a home occupation in an R-2 (single family residential) district at 2745 Mansfield Place, as requested by Dru and Tara Reeves. (Voting “Yes” for the permit were Aldermen Dave Hitt and Joe Bob Baker.)

The Reeves may continue to operate their reptile rescue as a hobby. “He has a right to maintain reptiles as a hobby,” stated City Attorney Tom Ludwig. However, if traffic, parking or other issues arise, the Reeves may then be adversely affecting the character of their neighborhood and could then be in violation of city ordinances, Ludwig explained.

Alderman Larry Cunningham voted “No,” stating, “This business-type operation would surely adversely affect the neighborhood.” Several residents of the neighborhood had objected to the special use permit at a previous meeting, he added.

“I just am really appalled at what is going on in that house,” Cunningham added. He had visited the basement of the Reeves house and felt that the operation did not belong in a residential neighborhood. “I beg my fellow council people to vote ‘No’ on this,” he concluded.

Ludwig was asked if one turtle getting loose into a neighbor’s yard would adversely affect the neighborhood. He replied that such an occurrence would probably fall under the category of a nuisance, not a zoning violation.

Alderman Katy Liley said she was not bothered by reptiles being housed there, but she was “not in favor of an unrestricted business license in a residential neighborhood when there was so much opposition.”

In other action:

• Business expansion: Cape Area MAGNET Director John Mehner announced to the Board in study session that by allowing the Chapter 100 Industrial Revenue Bonds to be issued, K-Coe Isom would be expanding in Jackson. The company would build a new facility of at least 10,000 square feet and hire more than 40 people in the next three to five years.

The City will have no obligation for the repayment of the bonds.

K-Coe Isom will receive a 50 percent property tax abatement for 10 years. Because this is a new structure, it means that the 50 percent property tax that is paid will be an increase over what would be paid if the property remained undeveloped. After 10 years, K-Coe Isom would pay the full property tax.

An additional incentive to bring the company here was to waive local sales tax on building materials.

The City will give a final vote at the next meeting on April 20.

• Electric system: The Board approved of paying $40,000 to Allen & Hoshall of Memphis, TN, to provide engineering services for the Electric System Coordination Study.

The Board also agreed to pay the firm $44,000 to provide engineering services for the Substation Circuit Protective Relaying Replacement Project, Phase 1.

The Memphis firm received an additional $17,500 for its work on the South Farmington Road Electric Line Extension Project.

The Board approved a $24,000 task order to 1898 & Co., a part of Burns & McDonnell Engineering Co., Inc., of Kansas City, for providing engineering services under the 2020 Electric Utility Rate Study Update.

• Extreme emergencies: The Board approved a change in Chapter 3 of the Code of Ordinances relative to actions in times of extreme emergencies. It now reads:

“In the event of extreme emergencies such as earthquake, tornado, or other disaster, the city administrator, or in his or her absence the assistant city administrator, is empowered to make temporary emergency orders that would normally be limited or prohibited by Chapter 65 of this code. The temporary emergency orders shall only allow for temporary business or residential occupancy or the repair and clean-up of property after a disaster and shall be to such degree and extent as the city administrator, or in his or her absence the assistant city administrator, deems necessary.

“Such temporary emergency orders shall not take effect until approved by the mayor, or in his or her absence the president of the board of aldermen. Temporary emergency orders shall then be presented to the board of aldermen for its information at its next regularly scheduled meeting. Said temporary emergency orders shall only be in effect for such period of time sufficient to allow for the normal zoning procedures by the planning and zoning commission and the board of aldermen and in no event shall a temporary emergency order be in effect more than one hundred twenty (120) days.”

• Tobacco: The Board raised the age to purchase tobacco products to 21.

• Concrete: The Board agreed to a $7,809.89 change order to Mike Light Cement Finishing of Perryville for work on the 2019 Concrete Pavement Improvement Program.

• Sanitary sewer: The Board approved a $25,405 change order to Jokerst Inc., of Ste. Genevieve, for work on the Williams Creek Sanitary Sewer Extension Project, Phase 1.

• Street repairs: The Board authorized a contract with the County to repair North Missouri Street, which was damaged during construction of the courthouse. A good price was obtained for the repairs, and the City will pay for 75 percent while the County will pay for 25 percent of the $82,202.

• Penzel Subdivision: The Board approved a minor plat of the Penzel Subdivision as submitted by West Hubble Development 325, LP.

Gregory Dullum has worked for The Cash-Book Journal for more than 25 years. Prior to becoming the editor in May 2017, he was production manager, circulation manager and reporter. Before moving to Cape Girardeau in 1988, he was editor of the Saint Louis Park Sailor, a weekly community newspaper in suburban Minneapolis, MN. A native of Minnesota, he returned there after graduating with distinction in 1978 from Ambassador College in Pasadena, CA, with a degree in mass communications. His wife, Marie, whom he met in college, is a native of Zalma, a small town in southeast Missouri. They have two grown daughters and five grandchildren. Gregory may be reached at

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