COLUMBIA - Ninety minutes of debate about a second proposed neighborhood association in north-central Columbia kicked off the City Council meeting Monday night, leading the council to postpone its decision to the Oct. 6 meeting.
The request was from the North Central Columbia Business District, which intends to represent the business and commercial interests in north-central Columbia in the form of a neighborhood association.
The item was on the agenda for the July 21 meeting but was tabled because of the district's request to amend its application submitted to the council. The change was to recognize it as a neighborhood association rather than a business district.
Phebe La Mar, an attorney representing many of the businesses, said, "There are a number of things that a neighborhood association is allowed to do that a business organization is not allowed to do."
La Mar cited being able to be included in the city's budget, which business organizations are not allowed to do, as one of the reasons for the requested change.
The proposed neighborhood association would overlap with the North Central Columbia Neighborhood Association - causing debate.
This is not prohibited by the city's neighborhood organization policy, yet some members of the existing north-central neighborhood association such as Linda Rootes, its president, see this as a problem.
In an e-mail dated Aug. 4, Rootes said: "Recognition of this organization as an alternative neighborhood association would open the door to any splinter group in any other neighborhood association who does not want to work with an existing organization which has been recognized by the city council. The developers would love the confusion and chaos that would result from that precedent."
The root of the problem seems to lie in the policies of the city, as noted by Fourth Ward Councilman Jerry Wade.
"I think we find ourselves in this situation in that our lack of focus and priority in our policies and definitions has created a very difficult question of how this issue can be resolved," Wade said.
It was proposed that the group be considered to be a business district, keeping in mind that the council may give it more rights in the future.
La Mar said that she couldn't speak for the entire North Central Columbia Business District, but would present the idea and return with more information in October.