Last Thursday, the Planning and Zoning Commission recommended against approval for a request by Richland Road Properties and East Richland Road Properties to annex and rezone 271 acres on the eastern border of Columbia.
The request was strongly opposed by residents living near the large swath of land, with many voicing concerns about the density of the proposed residential zoning as well as the ability of the area’s roads to support it. Many had spoken against the proposal before, which the commission had tabled twice in the past so the developer could make changes addressing city staff’s concerns.
This time around, though, the proposal secured the city planning department’s approval. In the department’s report on the request last week, the extensive review process was dubbed “advanced land planning.” The developer agreed to give the city land for a park, trails and an emergency services station as well as right of way for the Rolling Hills Road extension and the Stadium Boulevard extension. Developments would have required traffic studies to ensure the roads could support them and would have to be approved by staff before commencing.
But residents were worried that the requested planned unit development zoning, which means duplexes or apartments, would have led to more crime and clutter than single-family, owner-occupied housing. And commissioners said that the density was just too high.
At a May meeting among nearby residents, the developer and planning staff, Development Services Manager Pat Zenner said the opportunity for comprehensive planning could be lost if the land wasn’t annexed as a whole piece.
“Left to its own devices, acreage of this size over time would be chopped up and parceled out,” he said.
Should the Planning and Zoning Commission have recommended approval to annex 271 acres on the eastern border of Columbia?