By Debby Woodin
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Joplin will proceed with a vote on a proposal to take in Silver Creek Village.
The City Council voted Monday night to ask the commissions of Jasper and Newton counties to place a question on the Aug. 7 ballot so that voters can decide whether to combine the village with Joplin.
Pat Worley, chairman of the village trustees, said the action was “another good step forward” for residents of the village who want the benefits of being part of a city.
“I reiterate that it gives us another step forward to being able to control the less than 5 percent of the residents that violate ordinances, put buildings up without permits and don’t mow their lawns. That is the whole cause of this, because we go to talk to people (about nuisance complaints), and they just do what they want to do. There is no legal structure for us to make them comply.”
He said those who do not maintain their properties make it difficult for other village residents to sell property.
In addition, “The village has not supported the board for 2 1/2 years,” Worley said. He said the board was down to three trustees and recently saw a fourth person sign on, but it still does not have anyone willing to serve as village clerk.
All in all, Worley said, “We need the structure Joplin gives, and it will be the best thing that happens to property values here,” if voters approve consolidation.
The proposition has run up against opposition.
Resident Michael White, who has lived in the village 12 years, is one of those who do not approve. He has put up a website on the issue at www.citizensforsilvercreek.com.
“We’re just trying to get information out and make sure everybody gets both sides of the story,” White said in a phone interview Monday night. He said that although he opposes the move, “we’re trying to show both sides” on the website.
Worley has said that costs, in particular tax bills and sewer fees, would be lower if residents could be absorbed by Joplin. The proposition comes with a stipulation that Joplin will assume the village’s $2.3 million sewer system debt. Village residents would gain about $30 a month by not having to pay on that debt or pay Joplin’s out-of-city sewer treatment surcharge.
Another factor in the debate is the taxes village residents pay to the Redings Mill Fire Protection District. White works for that district, as do two other Silver Creek residents.
The fire district would lose about $51,000 from its $1.1 million in revenue if the village joins Joplin.
Joplin would gain from inheriting the village’s assets, such as its $52,500 a year in sales tax revenue, and its land.
White said the website lists the savings but also points out some fees that village residents do not have to pay now.
At the council meeting Monday night, the only question about the issue was raised by Councilman Benjamin Rosenberg. He asked what would happen if the proposal did not carry the required simple majority in either the city or the village.
City Attorney Brian Head said that if voters in both the city and the village did not approve the plan, it would not pass.
In other business, the council approved a request by the Majzoub Family Limited Partnership for rezoning on Highview Avenue to expand the Bel-Aire Plaza shopping center when it is rebuilt. The center was destroyed by the May 22 tornado.
City staff members told the council that the Majzoub family was the first to bring the city a commercial rezoning plan that meets the city’s new comprehensive plan and design guidelines, which are intended to create more attractive commercial districts and provide buffers to residential areas.
The owners and developers held a neighborhood meeting to explain their plan.
As a result, resident Keith Grebe, 2736 E. 15th St., spoke in favor of the plan. He said that when he attends a public hearing, he usually expresses opposition to commercial expansion into the neighborhood adjoining Range Line Road.
Instead, he favors the Bel-Aire proposal. “I want to congratulate the Majzoub family on getting neighborhood input” before putting a plan before the council, Grebe said, and for adhering to the new city guidelines and to the recommendations of the Citizens Advisory Recovery Team in expanding the commercial district.
THE CITY COUNCIL recognized Councilman Mike Woolston for his service as mayor during the tornado rescue operation and the past year’s recovery effort. Proclamations and letters from state and federal legislators and the Marine Corps were read honoring him for his leadership. His mayoral term ended last month.