Planning and Zoning tables decision on 270-acre request in east Columbia

Thursday, December 4, 2008 | 5:40 p.m. CST; updated 9:50 a.m. CST, Wednesday, November 18, 2009

COLUMBIA – Developers seeking rezoning and annexation of 270 acres to allow for commercial and residential development just east of Columbia have asked for more time to amend their plans related to road improvements in the area.

The Planning and Zoning Commission tabled discussion of the issue until its Jan. 8 meeting.

Columbia developers Richland Road Properties LLC and East Richland Road Properties LLC, led by David Atkins, had asked for the land on Richland Road near Grace Lane to be annexed and rezoned. Their tentative plans called for allowing building up to 1,300 residences and 755,000 square feet of total commercial space.

At the meeting, Erick Creach, an attorney representing the developers, said he could not provide further details or specify which roads were in question.

The tabling could have been triggered by city planner recommendations from a report filed prior to the meeting. The staff recommended denying the zoning request for the 90.09-acre tract on the western part of the property and a 131.75-acre tract on the southern portion unless the city attached several specific conditions to ensure the development does not outpace the surrounding streets' ability to handle traffic.

City planners had recommended approval of the planned commercial zoning for the eastern tracts, provided that the developers detail their plans for road improvements and leave room for a future trail along Grindstone Creek.

The developers have asked for planned commercial zoning in the northern portion of the property and planned unit development zoning in the southern portion. Under the requirements of planned zoning, the Columbia City Council must approve the specifics of the plan.

The property is zoned for agricultural and one-family-dwelling use by Boone County.

James Candrl, who lives about half a mile from the site on Richland Road, was the only neighbor who spoke at the meeting.

"I think there’s plenty of vacant buildings and houses around Columbia. I don’t see a need for more," he said. "I don’t think the roads out there can handle all of this additional traffic. It seems like as a society we have come to a point where we just build stuff because we can."

Access has come to be one of the biggest discussion points, as there is not yet sufficient infrastructure to support such a large development. The developers included the extension of Stadium Boulevard in their proposals for the western portion of the property. A final alignment has not been settled upon for the extension, and there is no money budgeted for the project, which is expected to cost $132 million.

Another issue is the extension of Rolling Hills Road from Route WW to Richland Road, which would also bear the brunt of traffic in the area. That project also has no budget, and the city has not yet decided on a specific alignment for the road.

The commission pushed the issue back to Jan. 8 instead of Dec. 18 to avoid holiday conflicts. There was also some discussion that a City Council request for a sub-area plan for the Stadium Boulevard extension area might delay or change a decision on the project.

Commission member Ann Peters said she wanted to allow more time to know the city's future plan for the area before making a decision.

"If we make a bad decision and this becomes a bad development, like Scott Boulevard, then everyone who lives there ends up paying a price, including the citizens who have to pay for the roads," she said.

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