CHESTERFIELD, MO (KPLR)-- There were a few new twists in the race to build a new outlet mall in Chesterfield, a mall opponents fear could doom the beloved Rombach Farms pumpkin patch.
Developers from two competing mall plans appeared before the Chesterfield City Council Monday night.
They’re proposing separate plans for separate malls at separate sites (just a few miles apart).
Analysts predict only one outlet mall will get built, whichever one gets built first.
The council approved a 1% sales tax plan for the St. Louis Premium Outlets proposal. The mall’s customers would pay the 1% tax to help cover the cost of the project. Mayor Bruce Geiger urged the council to support the plan, saying a new outlet mall could bring in 3 to 4 million visitors each year.
But this proposed mall would sit near Rombach Farms, established in 1914. The farm's operators told FOX 2 the mall project could ultimately require a 100-feet-wide drainage canal through their property, which they said could shut down the farm.
St. Louis Premium Outlet & Chesterfield Blue Valley developer, Dean Wolfe, said his development required no such canal.
“[The canal] is part of the master plan that the levee district requires in the valley, but it has nothing to do with Chesterfield Blue Valley or St. Louis Premium Outlets.
But the team for the other mall proposal, Taubman Prestige Outlets, discovered a May 17letter raising issue of the potential use of eminent domain to acquire property for the canal.
It was a letter from the levee district to the Chesterfield Planning Director.
The Taubman Prestige team gave a copy of the letter to the Chesterfield City Council.
“According to this letter, someone has been raising the issue of condemnation as it relates to the whole question of constructing the storm water channel, presumably through the Rombach property,” Taubman attorney, Chet Pleban, told the council.
“If Rombach doesn't want to do this voluntarily, and this is going to impact their business, that impacts the community. My kids went through Rombach. They picked pumpkins at Rombach. This isn't a simple little drainage thing that you would put in your back yard,” Pleban told FOX 2 after the meeting.
As for Pleban's presentation of the letter, Wolfe said, “I think it’s part of a continuing campaign of misinformation.”
Chesterfield’s mayor and planning director have both told FOX 2 if Rombach's owners did not want the canal on their property, they would not be forced to take it.
As for which mall would be built first, another attorney for Taubman, Mike Doster, told the council that even with the sale tax approval for the competition, the Taubman proposal would be closing next month, “Taubman plans to make announcement of the tenant commitments Taubman has contemporaneous with the closing and the official groundbreaking which you will receive notice of in the very near future."
The mayor said he’d look into who brought up the issue of eminent domain to the levee district.
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