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Lexington Club Vote Sparks Anger

Volatile issue likely to have high profile in St. Charles City Council races.

Monday’s St. Charles City Council votes that gave Lexington Club’s developer the green light to proceed no doubt prompted a sigh of relief for some even as it sparked anger among others.

Perhaps 3rd Ward Alderman Raymond Rogina summed it up best Monday night when he said, “Democracy at times can be messy.”

Rogina, one of five aldermen voting against the Lexington Club project, predicted the vote outcome moments before the vote was recorded, saying it would take yes votes by at least five aldermen and the mayor to push through the development.

Referring to an email that he said influenced him and several of his colleagues, Rogina said, “We can do better. …

“Reasonable people working together support why we have national recognition as a city and why we should roll up our sleeves and, together, work for nothing short of the best,” he said. “I fear City Council support on these propositions will create a bruise … the neighbors concerns are real.”

Rogina also pointed out that “we take the pulse of this city regularly to get an understanding of what the residents want from us — not what we want to give them. I’d like to suggest to my distinguished colleagues that we keep this in mind.”

While the Lexington Club appears to be a done deal — Mayor Donald DeWitte said after Monday’s City Council meeting that as far as he’s concerned, there is no further action needed on the issue by the council — the decision likely will hover over the City Council election this spring.

That perhaps is a foregone conclusion, but residents who paused outside the City Council Chambers during a pause in the meeting said they will be working to unseat those on the council who supported the Lexington Club project.

Then there are the political players themselves — Rogina, who voted against the project, wants to be mayor. So does John Rabchuk, who raised the issue last week when he publicly called on the City Council to reconsider its Dec. 10 vote against tax-increment financing for the Lexington project.

Jake “Wayne” Wyatt, another mayoral candidate, took a stance opposing TIF financing for Lexington Club; candidate Jotham Stein has yet to share his views on the issue with St. Charles Patch.

But other City Council candidates also have a stake in the issue.

Council members seeking re-election this spring and who voted for Lexington Club are 1st Ward Alderman Jon Monken, who faces Ronald Silkaitis and Justin D. Osborne; and 2nd Ward Alderman Clifford Carrignan, who faces Arthur J. Lemke on the April 9 ballot.

Fourth Ward Alderwoman Jo K. Krieger, who is unopposed, voted against Lexington, as did 5th Ward Alderwoman Maureen Lewis, who has pointed out that she and Krieger have voted consistently against the project. Lewis’ election challenger is Kim Malay, who also has opposed the Lexington Club — at least as it has been proposed.

Rogina’s expressed fear that approval of the Lexington project might leave a bruise on the community appeared to be fulfilled within seconds of the final vote on Lexington as one resident stepped up to the podium as DeWitte adjourned the formal City Council meeting.

The resident, who did not state his name, said he had been unable to get through the crowd quickly enough to address the council before it adjourned. He bitterly complained that the City Council was ignoring the community’s opposition to the project.

“I find it disgraceful for all of you who voted for Lexington Club,” he said, pointing to the petition drives and other activities by those who opposed the development. “You disgraced us ...”

During a break in the meeting, as the City Council met in executive session, Malay was among a handful of people standing in the hallway outside the City Council Chambers discussing the Lexington Club issue.

“I certainly am disappointed,” she said, noting there was little opportunity for residents to sit down and talk with both city officials and representatives of Lexington Club to work toward a compromise that would make the project better.

Many residents, she said, objected to the development plan for the site, while others feared the use of tax-increment financing for it.

“What’s causing a lot of people frustration is the fact that there’s been a message from City Hall that residents’ concerns don’t matter, and this has kind of proven that point,” she said. “I feel like we’ve really kind of let down the residents on this one.”

“We will try to promote candidates for this upcoming election who basically have the same attitude as we have,” said resident Joseph Masiokas. “Those who voted for it we will try to target to see that that do not get re-elected.”

Related:

  • Jan. 7, 2013: St. Charles Shocker: Council OKs Lexington Club
  • Jan. 7, 2013: Review Jan. 7 Live-Blog Coverage of St. Charles Council
  • Dec. 10, 2012:

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Phil Krahenbuhl January 08, 2013 at 03:04 PM
It is sad that the council and the mayor did not listen to the neighborhood cititzens and it's representatives (Ray Rogina and Bill Turner). We are the ones being affected and we could have done better.
Henry James January 08, 2013 at 03:05 PM
I for one will back all the candidates against the incumbents with the exception of Bill Turner. He at least stuck up for our ward. It is obvious that there was serious pressure put on. Folks we need a stronger council. One that will listen to the people, stick up for what is right now how they are being pushed. I understand some of those who voted in favor think the people will forget by the election. Lets prove them wrong.
Ted Schnell (Editor) January 08, 2013 at 05:25 PM
Folks, let's please keep it civil. I understand this issue has been divisive and there are some who are very angry, but let's avoid personal attacks, including those veiled in sarcasm. Thanks
Vanessa Bell-LaSota January 08, 2013 at 09:56 PM
A good judge of character is that someone can look you steadily in the eye, even when they are saying something you might disagree with. Five Aldermen looked down as they voted to approve each segment of the Lexington proposal, in the face of their residents. Residents who worked dilligently over the past several years, to research, fact-check, attend meetings, speak during public comment, speak to the affected taxing bodies, contact their representatives, write to the press, circulate petitions getting over 1,000 signatures, organize an advocacy group, build a facebook discussion group, reach across the city building consensus with groups of residents in other areas. No one person spoke out for this issue-it was a combined, grassroots effort among several neighborhood groups, and provides a great example of civilized, informed community advocacy. Remember when you cast your votes on April 9th and again, in two years, who listened & represented your concerns. The Concerned Coalition for Sensible Spending of St Charles is one among many groups taking careful stock of the candidates.
Betty M January 10, 2013 at 04:33 PM
When elected officials do not represent the people who put them in office but instead represent special interests groups, then it is time to get new elected officials. We now know who needs to be replaced.
Charles Davis January 11, 2013 at 06:44 AM
I agree with Alderman Rogina. The City has been bruised by this action and it will take it years to recover from the callous way in which it was handled by the Mayor.

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