The Jackson Mayor and Board of Aldermen approved a special use permit for a service and education facility for individuals with disabilities in an R-2 (single family residential) district at 2245 Old Toll Road, as submitted by the Kenneth E. Storey Revocable Trust.
During a public hearing, eight people spoke in favor of the facility coming to Jackson and no one spoke in opposition.
Most of those who spoke in favor were Jackson residents had relatives who now must be bused to a Blue Sky Community Services facility in Cape Girardeau. They liked the idea of having a facility closer to home.
“To be able to get there quickly, that means a lot to us in Jackson,” said one father.
One mother noted that Blue Sky provides transportation from one end of the county to the other, and bus rides to and from the Cape facility can sometimes last an hour and a half.
The facility allows people with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other disabilities to interact with others and learn life skills instead of sitting at home.
One man has guardianship of his 62-year-old sister, who is mentally the age of a 2-year-old. He has been impressed with the progress she has made since she was enrolled in Blue Sky’s program.
“If you could have seen her 10 years ago to now, you would see two totally different human beings,” he said. “My sister couldn’t write her name. Now she’s working on an iPad.”
He gets a report card every month on her progress, and has noted an improvement in her spirit.
“There is no threat to the neighborhood; no threat to the community,” he said. “This community needs a place like Blue Sky Community School.”
The issue had come before the Planning and Zoning Commission last year, and it was recommended for approval.
After the Board voted unanimously to approve the special permit, Mayor Dwain Hahs remarked, “I’d like to welcome Blue Sky to Jackson.”
In other action:
• County parking lots: The Board approved a special use permit for the County of Cape Girardeau to construct a parking lot at 211 N. Missouri Street and 207 Cherry Street for the new courthouse. These locations are in a n R-4 (general residential) district.
During a public hearing, a representative from the County spoke in favor of the project and no one spoke in opposition, although one resident who lives on Cherry Street asked when the mess of construction would be over and if the County had a time line for construction. The Mayor said someone from the City would get in touch with her to provide a time line for the construction of the new courthouse.
The County purchased the two properties in question and wanted to raze the homes to provide additional parking.
Although the courthouse will have adequate parking when it’s constructed, the County representative said, “There are occasions when there is a need for more parking.”
One of those times is during shift changes at the Sheriff’s office. These lots will be available for public parking as well. Barriers will be erected between the lots and nearby private property. Lights (if installed) must be installed so as not to shine on neighboring properties.
• Use tax: Brian Gerau, executive director of the Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce, spoke to the Board in favor of the use tax request on the April 2 ballot.
Speaking on behalf of retail businesses in Jackson, he said the use tax is a “pro-Jackson initiative that levels the playing field.” He said the City and businesses here “can’t afford to lose revenue to other states.” He also stated that a use tax “removes pressure to raise taxes to replace lost revenue.”
In study session, Callie Miller of Bold Marketing reported that informational notices about the use tax were ready to be inserted in city utility bills. There were some delays to a video presentation because employees working on the video had been sick.
• Water mains: The Board approved a change order to reduce the contract amount by $5,607 to Jokerst, Inc., of Ste. Genevieve relative to the Water System facility Plan Implementation Project Group 1C-Mains (replacing water mains).
The Board also approved paying Horner & Shifrin $346,800 for engineering services relative to Phase 2 of the Water system Facility Implementation Project.
• Police Station: The Board approved payment of $9,700 to Geotechnology Inc., of St. Louis, for providing engineering services for the Police Station Building Geotechnical Survey Project.
• South Farmington Road: The Board approved payment of $7,310 to Koehler Engineering & Land Surveying, Inc., of Cape Girardeau, to provide engineering services under the right-of-way survey for South Farmington Road, Phase 1.
• East Main roundabout: The Board approved paying Cochran Engineering of Union $49,530 to provide engineering services for the construction phase of the roundabout at East Main Street and Shawnee Boulevard.
• Budget amendment: The Board approved an amendment to the 2019 annual city budget, revising end-of-year balances.
• Mowing: The Board approved mowing and trimming contracts for city parks to Rockhill and Sons Mowing of Jackson. Although each city park was bid separately, Rockhill and Sons was the low bidder (out of two companies) for each park.
• North Georgia Street parking: During study session, several business owners complained that removing parking from North Georgia Street at East Main Street to add a right turn lane would adversely affect their businesses; they needed the on-street parking.
Donna Cook of Main Street Flooring said traffic on North Georgia only backs up during brief periods in the morning and afternoon, and then dissipates quickly. She didn’t think a turn lane would improve the traffic situation enough to warrant losing on-street parking for her business.
“I agree with her. I haven’t seen it be that bad,” commented Alderman Katy Liley.
“If you guys do this, you’ll reverse it,” said landlord Paul Emmendorfer. Adding a turn lane might hurt visibility and could double the accidents at that intersection, he predicted. “You take away parking from my tenants and where are people going to park?” he asked.
City staff will collect accident data for the intersection and report back to the Board at a future meeting.
• County courthouse: It was reported in study session that the new county courthouse was being constructed too close to city power lines along Missouri Street. There were less than 3 feet of clearance between the lines and the building, while at least 9 feet are required.
Penzel Construction will move the lines underground at no cost to the City. AT&T and Charter will be contacted as well, to see if they are agreeable to moving their lines underground as well.
The Board will vote on an agreement with Penzel to do this at its March 4 meeting.