COLUMBIA — Two houses are tucked away at the edge of Columbia's city limits. The houses are only visible after the trees have shed their leaves.
But with Interstate 70 to the north and the city power plant to the west, these houses, built in 1908 and 1913, do not fit in with the mostly industrial and commercial districts that surround them. The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously Thursday night to rezone the 23-acre tract of land where the houses are situated from residential to industrial.
The commission’s vote, however, does not finalize the rezoning because the Columbia City Council has the final say.
Rezoning the tract will not require the houses to be demolished but will create an appropriate zoning for the two homes, said Tim Teddy, director of the city's Planning and Development Department. This could open the door to future development.
“It would provide employment to citizens of Columbia and would add to the tax base,” Teddy said.
The property is owned by the Juliet Bowling Rollins Trust. Two of Rollins’ granddaughters live there. The women have renovated and added on to the houses while attempting to preserve their original characters, said Sharon Lynch, a co-trustee and vice president at Landmark Bank.
"It's the furthest thing from their mind to move," Lynch said.
Brian Treece, chairman of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, thinks the two properties could be architecturally and historically significant. Treece, in an e-mail, requested that the Planning and Zoning Commission give the Historic Preservation Commission until Oct. 20 to document the history of the property and its occupants.
"Rezoning the property to M-1 will create a nonconforming, but albeit legal, use for this property," Treece said in the e-mail. "Traditionally, this action is the beginning of the end for historic properties."
The Historic Preservation Commission will have until Sept. 21 to review the rezoning request before the council’s vote, said David Brodsky, a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission.