COLUMBIA — Columbia residents who were worried about the environmental and aesthetic impact of a large car lot immediately east of U.S. 63 and Stadium Boulevard helped convince the Planning and Zoning Commission on Thursday night to recommend that the plan be rejected.
Members voted 5-3 to recommend that the City Council reject the car lot.
Stadium 63 Properties, which is developing the Crosscreek Center on the 74-acre site, had sought an amendment to a previous planned commercial development to allow the car lot along with previously approved uses, including restaurants, a bank and retail businesses. Previous plans that did not include the car lot were approved in November 2004 and September 2006.
The Planning and Zoning Commission took up the request at its Dec. 20 meeting but tabled it after the public complained. Some said they had too little time to review the plan and that the meeting was scheduled too close to the holidays. Commissioners suggested it would be good if the developers worked with residents to address concerns.
Residents on Thursday said they worried that runoff from the car lot would be a detriment to nearby Grindstone Creek and that it would be an ugly development at a major gateway into Columbia.
Marion Dickerson said in an interview before the meeting that the Stadium 63 Properties tract was beautiful before it was bulldozed.
“It’ll be a real eyesore for the people coming into Columbia,” Dickerson said of the proposed development. “I drive by it quite a bit driving into Columbia.”
The developers met with neighborhood associations prior to the commission meeting to discuss concerns.
Jim Muench, chairman of the Shepard Boulevard Neighborhood Association, agreed to a new car dealership that sold trade-ins and requested some sort of neighborhood control over the architectural aesthetics of future construction at the meeting. He said he didn’t want used car dealerships.
Muench was skeptical of concessions the developers said they had made.
“They seemed to be open to make compromises, but many compromises don’t seem to give that much,” he said. “I haven’t heard anything specific that would deliberately prohibit used car lots.”
Other issues were raised by residents at the meeting, such as noise from P.A. systems, pedestrian and bike-friendly access and an opposition to 24 businesses.
Daniel Jordan, a resident who lives near the property, said the neighborhoods need to set a precedent for developers. “We are setting a standard for the development of this gateway.”
Bruce Beckett, a lawyer and representative of Stadium 63 Properties, said that a car lot would be a more efficient development for the Crosscreek Center, both traffic-wise and for pedestrians.
“We think this is a very friendly development for pedestrians,” he said.
Beckett said the developers were willing to compromise by restricting the construction of the dealership to a designated area and prohibiting transport trucks from delivering goods during peak traffic times.
The development was planned keeping the next 20 years in mind, he said.
But Jeff Barrow, chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission, argued during the final discussions that if the car lot was a more desirable option, it should have been included in the previous list of approved uses.
“We need to show neighbors that when they enter into an agreement (developers) will back it up,” he said. “I haven’t heard any neighbor who is really happy about (the lot).”