COLUMBIA — New residential, office and business developments are in the works for the eastern side of Columbia.
On Monday night, the City Council unanimously approved a request to zone approximately 37 acres of undeveloped land southwest of Elk Park Drive and Route WW, or Broadway, for mixed use. The property, which was pending voluntary annexation by the city, was previously zoned for single-family residential use in the county. The city established mixed-use zoning for the three adjacent tracts of land, including planned business zoning, planned office zoning and planned unit development allowing up to nine dwellings per acre.
At the meeting, Councilman Jerry Wade said he was “extremely pleased to see real cottage development.” Wade said his earlier concerns arose from other housing development projects that “degenerate into slum rentals in spite of good intentions.”
“I find it exciting to see the shift of new definitions of villas and townhouses done to distinguish between low-quality duplexes that we have far too many of,” Wade said.
Chad Sayre of Allstate Consultants said the project was initiated in the county and approved several years ago. GM Columbia Investments and Grindstone Investments decided to enter the request into the city planning process now because of some recent developments in Columbia, Sayre said. Those developments include the installation of a traffic signal at Elk Park Drive, rapid growth on the eastern side of Columbia and proposals to extend Gans Road and Stadium Boulevard.
The site is also contiguous to city limits and has access to all city services such as gas, water, electricity and plumbing.
Though the proposal was up for a public hearing at the council meeting, no members of the community came forward to speak for or against the request.
”The reason there has been no opposition so far is that (the project) was so well-planned in the county. City planners agreed, and they worked together,” Sayre said. “That’s why it’s a good fit.”
Business zoning was approved for the 8.13 acres immediately southwest of Route WW. Sayre said a possible use of the land could be a fueling station, because there is only one in Columbia east of Broadway. Office zoning was approved for the 4.61 acres south of the first tract, which Sayre said could be used for neighborhood businesses such as a small grocery store or dry cleaning business. Residential zoning was approved for the remaining 24.83 acres west of the second tract.
On April 28, GM Columbia Investments and Grindstone Investments submitted a revised statement of intent.
For land tracts one and two, the revisions called for “no free-standing residential uses.” A revision for tract three reduced the number of dwelling units from 12 to nine per acre, reduced the total parking spaces by 130 and established restrictions on the cottage villas and townhouses planned for development in the area.
Tim Teddy, city planner, said the revisions reflected council member concerns that no central management in the area could be problematic. Teddy also explained the difference between villas and duplexes, which are both two-family dwelling units.
“New standards in zoning ordinances require villas to have certain materials — brick, stone, fiber, cement or other materials that are more permanent in nature — on the outside,” Teddy said.
Teddy said restrictions are also placed on how much the garage can protrude from the house “so the street view isn’t dominated by garage doors.”
Ron Shy of Allstate Consultants said cottage homes were a new idea in Columbia and are likely in the first phase of development.
“We think it’s something that would be a good market for us,” Shy said.