COLUMBIA — The residents of Lenoir Woods have it good.
With tidy brick houses with white shutters lining the streets, professionally kept green lawns, and good food provided, why would anyone want to leave?
But the issue of leaving is exactly what drew the residents of Lenoir Woods, a retirement community in southeast Columbia, to form an official neighborhood association.
As an official neighborhood association, the community hopes to have more of a voice in city decisions about access roads from their neighborhood and from the adjacent Lemone Industrial Park. All exits from Lenoir Woods lead residents to New Haven Road, where they must turn left in order to reach U.S. 63. Residents face congestion and delays from traffic exiting Lemone.
Although the City Council in mid-June approved a northern access road from Concorde Industrial Plaza along Lemone — a project that should alleviate some of the traffic woes — Lenoir residents hope that, in the future, they can more effectively voice their concerns over traffic problems, especially as nearby Discovery Ridge Research Park grows southeast of their community.
Harold Wilson, an eight-year resident of the first little brick house visible from the entrance, hopes that when he makes comments at the City Council meetings as a neighborhood association representative, he’ll get a little more respect.
“I’ve seen the other guys go up there, as a representative of the neighborhood association, and the council listens to them more because they are speaking for more than one body,” Wilson said.
Wilson has spoken recently at the March 17 and June 16 City Council meetings about the Lemone Industrial Boulevard extension.
At the council meeting Monday, two neighborhood association representatives voiced concerns over developments in their area. The council repeatedly called Allen Hahn, the Woodridge Neighborhood Association president, back up to the microphone when discussing the Silver Oak rezoning.
Uel Blank, another Lenoir Woods resident, said that although the access road issue is what brought the movement toward the neighborhood association, there are other reasons to have the organization.
“For zoning regulations, possibly crime — even though that’s not an issue now — or if there was an event of nature,” it would be important to have an opportunity to make input with the city, Blank said.
The officers of the association include a representative from Lutheran Senior Services, which purchased Lenoir Woods and the property it’s built on in 2005. Kent Kirkwood, that representative, said his role was created to give a voice not only to the owners but also to more residents, who come to the owners with concerns.
“I think the City Council may pay more attention to us, as a voting block,” Wilson said. More than 500 people live in Lenoir Woods, which offers independent homes, two apartment complexes and a health-care facility.
The retirement community already has a residents’ association that meets regularly, and at the moment the board of the neighborhood association mirrors that of the residents’ group, with the exception of Kirkwood, who is not a resident.
Lenoir Woods is the 62nd active neighborhood association in Columbia.