Open letter to the mayor and City Council regarding Crosscreek Center development (B16-08)
At the Feb. 4 City Council meeting, after five hours of testimony by concerned residents in the area of Crosscreek Center development, by other concerned citizens of Columbia and by developers, this rezoning and development proposal at Stadium Boulevard & U.S. 63 was tabled until the Monday, March 3 council meeting. This proposal, B16-08, which includes a vehicle dealership, is opposed by the neighborhood associations in the Crosscreek vicinity and was voted against by the city Planning & Zoning Committee. The outcome of B16-08 will be, I believe, a turning point in our city’s history for two reasons.
The first reason relates to the proposal itself. A vehicle dealership is proposed in the wrong place. And also, the entire project, involving 13 developed lots, actually 10 in the current application, on 74.4 acres (There are some nuances here, but basically the ratio is 13 sites/74.4 acres), is wasteful land use.
This development at Stadium/U.S. 63 is seriously flawed in the following ways: It is (1) poorly conceived environmentally and aesthetically, especially the car lot, which is on the site of a major entrance into the city; (2) characterized by a chronically unreliable and shifting pattern of behavior on the developers’ part, including violation of environmental standards and failure to reach a trustworthy, collaborative consensus with residents; and (3) based on an out-of-date model of development, business and land use that falls into the yet-another/same-old category — not the direction our city should be taking to ensure a strong, forward-looking economic future.
Second, this issue tests our city’s commitment to its Visioning process. Visioning, the communitywide discussion, which began in 2006, is the process by which “all citizens will create a shared vision for Columbia’s future over the next five to 15 years, by identifying goals and making plans to reach them.” (see: gocolumbiamo.com/Public_Comm/Visioning/faq.php). This process is about (1) forward-looing, well-informed planning and development; (2) substantive, good-faith dialogue and consensus-building among all partners in our citywide conversation (individual citizens, neighborhood groups, elected officials, city staff, business people and developers); and (3) the fundamental premise and promise of a truly committed effort, on all our parts, to work toward this community’s common good in word and deed.
I urge the council and mayor first to vote no on B16-08 at their next public meeting. Second, I urge them, as our elected officials, to recommit themselves to Visioning for Columbia’s future. And finally, I urge my fellow citizens to join actively in community dialogue to shape Columbia’s future. Let us make our city truly habitable, economically sound and sustainable for all residents; and let us require of our officials their accountability to this public trust.