Commission tables 2 proposed Crosscreek Center lots

Thursday, June 19, 2008 | 11:25 p.m. CDT; updated 8:45 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — The Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission voted Thursday night to table two proposed lots at the Crosscreek Center, located just east of U.S. 63 and Stadium Boulevard.

The 6-3 vote followed a public hearing that heard from the project’s developers and representatives from surrounding neighborhood associations over the lots, which would be home to a Taco Bell and a Break Time convenience store. The debate among commission members focused largely on the piecemeal manner in which the project is being considered.

Further complicating the commission’s discussion last night was the announcement, made just four hours before the meeting, that Timberhill Neighborhood Association and development firm Stadium 63 Properties reached an agreement in a mediation process that has been ongoing since May 22. But the Shepard Boulevard Neighborhood Association, which was also involved in the mediation process, did not sign off on the agreement. The parties intend to file the multi-page agreement with the city today.

Bruce Beckett, lawyer for Stadium 63 properties, said the agreement with Timberhill includes many “bells and whistles” for adhering to a “unified theme” for the buildings. Some of these features include primarily brick and stone exteriors, and “pitched roofs,” including the Break Time.

Commission member Helen Anthony, who motioned to table the two proposals, didn’t think the commission members had enough time to read the agreement before the meeting. She also thought that the main issue was “aesthetics”, and that it would be “disingenuous” to make a decision on just the two lots wihout giving Shepard Hill a chance to vote.

Commission member Doug Wheeler, who voted against tabling the proposals, argued that the Taco Bell and Break Time lot proposals complied with city ordinances dating back to 2004. He added that it wasn’t appropriate to hold up development on the parcels merely because the commission didn’t have the rules in place to handle this kind of development.

Gregg Suhler, the former president of the Timberhill Neighborhood Association who represented the group during the mediation, praised the developer’s “commitment to quality” that they hoped to see all along with the plan.

“I think that there will be a development that most people will be pleased with,” Suhler said in an interview before the meeting.

Shepard Boulevard President Jim Muench said the group has not been able to convene and vote on the agreement and spoke against approving plans because voting for lots individually would undercut the main goal of architectural unity.

As a result of the vote, the two lots are scheduled to be considered along with the rest of the Crosscreek development proposal at the commission’s July 10 meeting.

The Crosscreek Center development project had its first public hearing before the Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission in December 2007.

According to the Planning Commission, city-recognized neighborhood associations affected by the Crosscreek Center include Shepard Boulevard, Timber Hill Road, Moon Valley Heights and Bluff Creek Estates.

Following their rejection of the developers’ proposal, City Council members had suggested that the two groups, Shepard and Timber Hill, meet to discuss their differences.

Before the scheduled June 5 hearing, Columbia Planning and Development Director Tim Teddy said the Planning Commission had received another application from Stadium 63 with site plans for the remaining lots.

These are now under review, Teddy said, and will likely be the subject of a public hearing in July.

“We do not want another strip of dissimilar buildings at our doorstop; we want a coordinated development with complimentary buildings that give Crosscreek a sense of place,” Muench said in a statement.

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