Council tables Silver Oak Senior Living Center proposal

Monday, June 2, 2008 | 9:39 p.m. CDT; updated 12:14 a.m. CST, Wednesday, November 26, 2008

COLUMBIA — Bright green leaves and soft purple flowers flashed across the screen at Monday night’s City Council meeting as part of Columbia resident R.L. Garnett’s slide show. Garnett was the only person to speak at the public hearing for the Silver Oak Senior Living Center proposal, which the council voted to table until its next meeting on June 16.

The proposal would rezone more than 11 acres of property just north of Woodridge Park to allow for construction of the center. The motion to table followed a request from the developer SOCH LC.

“Tabling the motion is also in relation to the request that the applicant has made ... in terms of creating the conservation easement,” Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala said.

The easement would protect 2.7 acres of woodland on the property from future development.

In May, the Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval of the Oklahoma-based firm’s proposal. The building plans, totaling 275,300 square feet, include two residential care buildings, a separate kitchen facility and two office buildings.

The property is currently zoned for residential use, but would need to be designated O-P, or planned office district, in order for construction of the facility to move forward.

Allen Hahn, Woodridge Neighborhood Association chairman, reluctantly supported the proposal at a public hearing with the commission last month.

“It would be easy to be a naysayer, but something’s going to go in there,” he told the Missourian for a May 14 story about neighborhood involvement in planning and zoning. “It’s zoned R-1 at the moment, but they could put up to 30 single family homes in there, and I don’t think we’d like what would go in there in single-family homes.”

Before the hearing, residents expressed their concerns at a series of meetings with the developers. In response, developers made changes to preserve some of the trees on the property. In addition to signing the conservation easement, the developers agreed that a city arborist and a neighborhood representative will be present during tree harvesting to ensure the trees are preserved. The firm will plant 35 red cedar trees to screen nearby homes from the area.

Despite the developers’ concessions, residents remained concerned.

“It’s pretty obvious that those cedars are only along the northernmost edge of the eastern boundary, and there really is nothing being done with the entire eastern boundary,” Scott Wright, a resident who lives close to the property, said at the planning and zoning meeting.

Thirteen residents protested the proposal with a petition filed May 28, which would have forced a super-majority vote of approval by the council. However, the city declared the petition invalid because its signers did not own the required 30 percent of property around the acreage in question.

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