Variance Granted to Allow County Road to Be Paved

By Tim Schmidt
Posted 12/5/10

With a cost-share agreement in place, the Warren County Commission Tuesday approved a variance to move forward with plans to upgrade Schreckengast Road. Cedar Lake Farms owner Carl Bolm is going to …

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Variance Granted to Allow County Road to Be Paved


With a cost-share agreement in place, the Warren County Commission Tuesday approved a variance to move forward with plans to upgrade Schreckengast Road. Cedar Lake Farms owner Carl Bolm is going to split the overall project cost, estimated to be $100,000, to pave and widen the entire sixth-tenths of a mile stretch. He proposed the arrangement when first meeting with the commissioners in August after announcing plans to open Cedar Lake Winery. Currently, the county has a 40-foot easement in place for the gravel road. But in order for the improvements to meet county road specifications, the county needed an additional 10 feet of easement on each side of the roadway from all four property owners. The county obtained the extra width from all property owners except for a stretch owned by Ben and Joann Griffith. Since the Griffiths were unwilling to cooperate, the variance was needed to allow the county to proceed. Most of the properties abutting the road are farmland. The commissioners are banking the winery will provide a positive economic impact to the county. "I think it's a tremendous benefit to the county where we don't have to bear all the expense," Southern District Commissioner Hubie Kluesner said. "It gives us the ability to hard surface or upgrade other roads." The widened road will feature a 22-foot paved driving surface with 2-foot-wide shoulders on each side. The shoulder will be 1 foot of asphalt and 1 foot of rock. Gary Ruether, county road supervisor, said the roadway will be 2 feet wider than county policy to prevent motorists from driving on the edge and cracking the pavement. The commission approved the variance Tuesday by a 3-0 vote during a public hearing. It said the extra 20 feet is necessary to plan for future development and growth in the area. Schreckengast Road is located south of Wright City near the intersection of South Stringtown Road and Highway M. Along with sharing the project cost, the commissioners said the county will benefit from the winery's opening with additional jobs and sales tax revenue. Bolm estimates that the winery will create around 20 jobs, with more seasonal employees on hand for when various events are held. "In this situation, there is so much to be gained by the county," Northern District Commissioner Dan Hampson said. "At this point, I think it's something we need. It benefits the county in revenue. It benefits the citizens with the attraction of a business. There are a lot of people I've talked to that are excited about the facility." Bolm said previously it's his goal to attract visitors who frequent other wineries on the Highway 94 corridor in Dutzow and Augusta. In order to make a good first impression, he believes the entrance to his property needs to be improved and eliminate the possibility of the gravel road being torn up during inclement weather. Since opening a few years ago, Cedar Lake Farms has mainly been used as a private venue for weddings, corporate retreats and birthday parties. Bolm, who owns restaurants in Sunset Hills and Creve Coeur and is involved with an assortment of other business ventures, has high hopes a winery will be well received. He is anticipating a soft opening this fall with the entire operation to be ready in the spring of 2011. It's unknown when work will begin on Schreckengast Road, as a time frame will be dictated by projects currently under way or scheduled, Ruether said. Acknowledging the Griffiths' refusal to grant the easement, the commissioners said it was their hope future county commissioners would reach an agreement with the couple to put any utilities on their property outside the area where the easement would have been extended. The county commission plans on using funds generated from the continuation of a half-cent sales tax that voters approved in February 2008 to make road improvements. Beginning July 1, 70 percent of sales tax receipts will go toward road maintenance, while the remaining 30 percent is allocated for capital improvements. County officials are predicting the sales tax to generate $400,000 in the remaining six months in 2010 and double that figure to $800,000 in 2011. Kluesner noted that a property owner along Town Branch Road has indicated a willingness to split the expense with the county, similar to what Bolm has proposed, to replace the gravel surface with asphalt.