Editor's Note: This article was updated with more information at 8:45 a.m.
Air Evac Lifeteam announced in June that the company planned to move its headquarters from West Plains, MO to O’Fallon.
The company provides medical transportation to rural communities, flying critically ill or injured patients to hospitals in 15 states.
The company plans to occupy its new O’Fallon headquarters at 1001 Boardwalk Springs Place, by mid-October, bringing nearly 120 new jobs to the area.
Along with the new headquarters the company has requested a conditional use permit for a distribution center in an adjacent vacant building at 7321 Village Centre Dr.
The distribution center would receive and deliver helicopter parts to other Air Evac locations.
Air Evac Lifeteam President Seth Myers said the helicopter parts are small and most can be held in one hand, while the largest are the size of a small car engine.
The parts would be stored in the back of the building where there are no windows and the work stations and offices would be at the front of the building near the windows along Village Center Drive.
Myers said at Thursday night’s City Council meeting, that the location is a convenient 100 yards from the new O’Fallon headquarters and employees would be able to walk to the distribution center, rather than drive to another spot closer to Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.
But some WingHaven residents say the Boardwalk Marketplace is not the place for a distribution center.
A group of O’Fallon residents who live in WingHaven spoke up at the public hearing on Thursday, expressing concerns with how the center would affect the community’s aesthetics and safety.
Ralph Schaffner said he doesn’t have a problem with the Air Evac Lifeteam, but he’s concerned the location will affect the area that was meant to be a spot to shop and play.
“This doesn’t add value to commercial shops and is not conducive to that area,” Schaffner said.
O’Fallon resident Joyce Selk agreed.
“This distribution center, whatever you want to call it, was not the intended use for that space and that’s why we object,” she said. “There are other places to better accommodate these needs. This is not what we want in the center of our town.”
Steve Dull said he was in favor of Air Evac Lifeteam coming to O’Fallon, but not WingHaven.
Laurie Graves asked the council to have an open mind and listen to what the residents said on Thursday.
“We all moved there for the same reason, so our kids can play, run around and be safe,” Graves said. “We welcome Air Evac, but the distribution center was not intended for that.”
Graves added, residents want to continue seeing the Boardwalk Marketplace grow and thrive.
“With all due respect, I don’t think a distribution center is adding to that,” she said.
Ashley Radky, a local real estate agent, told the council she supports the distribution center coming into the Boardwalk because it is filling a vacancy and providing jobs to the community.
“I see that vacancy and now we have a company that’s willing to come in the community and hire people,” she said. “We need to keep them here.”
On Thursday, Ward 2 Councilman Jim Pepper made a motion to suspend the rules and give the ordinance a second reading so the council could vote on the conditional use permit for the distribution center.
The motion failed with four no votes and five yes. City Attorney Kevin O’Keefe said three council members voting against a second reading is enough to fail according to the city charter.
Ward 1 Councilman Bill Gardner, Ward 3 Councilman Rick Battelle and Ward 5 Councilmen Mike Pheney and Michael Snowden voted against the motion. Voting for the motion were, Ward 2 Councilmembers Rose Mack and Jim Pepper, Ward 3 Councilman John Haman, Ward 4 Councilmen Jeff Schwentker and Bob Howell. Ward 1 Councilman Rick Lucas was absent at Thursday’s meeting.
The conditional use permit is on the Sept. 27 meeting agenda for second reading and final passage.
To read more, visit the city’s website under the Meeting Agenda section.