A new county courthouse moved a step closer to reality July 16 as the Jackson Mayor and Board of Aldermen approved a special use permit to build the Justice Center in a C-2 (central business) district on property including 200-302 N. Missouri Street and 201-309 N. High Street.
The special use permit allows the Justice Center to be four stories and up to 75 feet tall from the lowest adjacent grade.
During a public hearing earlier in the meeting, Cape County Commissioner Charlie Herbst explained that the lowest adjacent grade was the entrance to the Sheriff’s Office that will be the door. That being the case, the new courthouse will not tower over the old one, which will remain uphill on Courthouse Square.
The County is using a design-build process for the new Justice Center (and a design-builder has not yet been selected), so plans are not available at this time.
However, generally speaking, the building’s exterior will be compatible with nearby buildings, including the Sheriff’s Office, City Hall, the old courthouse and the County Administrative Building.
“We anticipate the building to be complementary to all of these,” Herbst said. “It will not take away from the Courthouse or Uptown Jackson.”
The new courthouse may be up to four stories tall, but that’s not unusual; Jackson already has several three-story buildings, including the jail, City Hall, County Administrative Building and several schools, Herbst said.
Gary Yielding, Historic Preservation Commission chairman, stated, “We are in favor of the building. They need the space. But we feel like the building does need to complement everything that’s going on in Uptown Jackson.”
He said the 75 foot height is as “tall as a church steeple” and suggested that there be some setbacks established. If the new Justice Center is over two stories tall, the commission recommended a 15-foot setback from the street.
In addition, there should be some trees planted to screen the building from its residential neighbors.
Darren Burgfeld of the Uptown Jackson Revitalization Organization, agreed that the building was needed but wanted a two-story maximum put on it and wanted setbacks to be required.
He also wanted to make sure the building will fit in with the surrounding buildings. “We’re not expecting it to mimic the historical design, but to complement existing structures,” he said.
Brian Thompson of Jones Drug, a nearby business, said he had concerns about parking and wondered if there would be a parking structure included in the plans.
There are no specific plans as yet, but Herbst assured Thompson, “We’ll meet or exceed the parking needs.”
The special use permit granted by the City simply allows the property to be used to build the Justice Center. It does nothing to dictate or control the design of the structure.
Alderman Katy Liley said she did not like the way the County Archive Center was built “straight up” so close to the road (separated by only a sidewalk). She did not want something like that to happen with the Justice Center. This was the City’s only opportunity for input, so she voted No as the permit was approved 6-1.
In other action:
• Speed limit: During non-agenda citizen input, Jaren Melton requested that the speed limit on Emma and August Streets be reduced from 30 mph to 20 mph, because a lot of people cut through on those streets at a high rate of speed.
City Administrator Jim Roach said a speed trailer was used to check speeds of motorists and print out a report. From Wednesday, July 11, until noon, July 16, there were 1,455 vehicles that passed the trailer. Of those, 153 were traveling from 30 to 35 mph. Fifteen were traveling faster than 36 mph. One was clocked at 59 mph. The average speed was 23.8 mph.
Roach suggested that instead of posting lower speed limits, there be heavier police patrol and that tickets be issued.
The matter will be discussed again in the future, said Mayor Dwain Hahs.
• Villas of West Jackson: No one from the public spoke at a public hearing to consider a request from Villas of West Park, LLC, for a renewal of a special use permit for a community unit plan for a senior housing development in the Villas of West Jackson Subdivision. The renewal was approved.
• Tax rate: A public hearing was set for 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 20, to consider proposed 2018 Parks and Recreation, general revenue, cemetery and band tax rates.
• New police station: The Board approved paying Koehler Engineering & Land Surveying, Inc., of Cape Girardeau $7,432.24 for services regarding environmental site assessment for the new police station.
• Electric line relocation: The Board agreed to pay Allen & Hoshall of Memphis, TN, $30,000 for engineering services regarding the relocating of electric lines on North High Street.
• North Electric Substation: The Board agreed to a $85,761.75 change order to Clark & Sons Excavating for grading and site preparation for the North Electric Substation.
• Code of ethics: The Board readopted Chapter 1, Article 8 of the Code of Ordinances, relative to ethics. (This happens every year.)
• Sanitary sewer: The Board accepted a bid from Insituform Technologies USA, LLC, of Chesterfield, for $70,218.86 sewer lining (coating the inside of sewer lines).
• Doggie daycare: A public hearing was set for 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 20, to consider a special use permit for a doggie daycare in a C-2 (general commercial) district at 608 Rosamund St., as submitted by the Stephen W. & Diann M. Dow Trust.
• Parking and stop signs: The Board approved four ordinances affecting streets around the new Jackson R-2 Freshman Center.
Stop signs will be added to West Adams and West Jefferson Streets. Parking will be prohibited on portions of Colorado, West Jefferson and South Oklahoma streets.
Parking will be prohibited at times on portions of Colorado and West Jefferson streets.
Crosswalks will be added on West Madison and South Russell streets.
• I-55/East Jackson Boulevard interchange: Jason Williams, project manager with MoDOT, updated the Board on the status of the diverging diamond interchange coming to East Jackson Boulevard at I-55.
A right-in, right-out intersection will be included on the north side of East Jackson Boulevard about halfway between I-55 and South Orchard Road. A new proposed road will go north from there, connecting with the end of Birk Road.
Land is being donated for the road by Drury Companies, which also has agreed to move dirt for the road.
The intersection of East Jackson Boulevard and Old Orchard Road will be widened to allow for U-turns. The expense for doing this will be borne by the City of Jackson because the City is requesting this change.
“We’ll pay for the U-turn from the I-55 TIF fund,” explained Mayor Hahs.
• Retail development: Jen Berti updated the Board on the Retail Market Analysis and Recruitment Strategy.
She said potential retailers have been contacted about locating their businesses in Jackson. Currently there are 10 actively looking at this market and 25 she is waiting to hear back from. These include various retailers such as grocery stores, restaurants, sporting goods stores and gas stations.
She mentioned there are 12 new businesses that have recently opened in Uptown Jackson. “We need to celebrate that,” she added.
She is excited about a new hotel coming to the I-55 and East Jackson Boulevard intersection. “It will be a good anchor. Other businesses will come,” she predicted.
She said Jackson reaching a population of 15,000 is exciting because “retailers are starting to seriously consider Jackson.”
Jackson has several big draws, including its growing population, its schools and how many people drive in and out of Jackson. The biggest drawback is that it’s sitting right next to Cape Girardeau, which competes for businesses.
• City employee insurance: Jeff Bierman of Swinford and Associates gave a midyear report on city employee insurance usage.
The City had a bad year for claims and rates may increase next year if claims don’t go down the rest of the year.
The City is self-insured and paid out $1,755,760 in claims from a total of 271 members on the plan. There were nine large claims this year that made up 52 percent of that total.
Employees are still using Saint Francis Medical Center, which has much higher rates than Southeast Hospital, even though employees are encouraged to switch.
There were 140 visits to Saint Francis costing a total of $536,000, or $11,000 per claimant. By contrast, there were 130 visits to Southeast Hospital totaling $252,000, or $6,000 per claimant.
In the future, the City may have to exclude Saint Francis from its plan, and if employees go there, they will have to pay the entire cost out of pocket.
• Easement abandonment: Jackson resident Debra O’Conner requested a partial abandonment of an easement across the back of her property in Savanna Ridge Subdivision so she could have a pool installed.
The financing for her pool will expire before the next Board of Aldermen meeting, so it will be too late for the Board to take official action. Wanting to work with the resident, the Board agreed to let City staff work out the problem with the resident and bring the matter to the Board for official approval after the fact.