COLUMBIA — The Boone County Commission tabled a request for a permit to use a baseball field a couple built in their neighborhood near Rock Bridge State Park.
The owners, Rick and Kimberly Rose, have been using this field for a number of years. They recently learned that they need a permit to use the land, because it’s zoned as residential.
The commission discussed the request at a Tuesday night meeting at the Roger B. Wilson Boone County Government Center.
So many people crowded the commission chamber that some were forced to stand. The audience included baseball players from Rock Bridge High School, who practice at the field.
The Bonne Femme Homeowners Association voted in unanimous approval of his field in 2006. But two neighbors who live close to the field said they don’t want outsiders coming into the neighborhood.
Rick Rose got the idea to build the baseball field when he coached his son's baseball team. They started to build the field in 2002. Rose said he never intended the field to be used solely by his son, but wanted it to be open to any “youth to get better at baseball.”
Rick Rose told the commission that other residential neighborhoods have baseball or soccer fields. He used the nearby Highland subdivision as an example. "I’m not asking to do anything that has not been done," Rose said.
Rose said several times that the field would not be used for commercial purposes.
“It is my wish and my prayer that you vote for its [the field’s] usage,” he said.
Rose said the neighbors should be happy to see buses of kids playing baseball instead of doing harmful activities like using drugs or alcohol.
Rose said there have been no complaints about the baseball field since 2007.
He said the baseball field’s peak use was from 2006 to 2007. “Now it’s used 50 percent less than it’s ever been,” he said.
Association President Tom Mendenhall said, “We’re in favor of this ball field.”
A series of supporters of the permit then addressed the council. Mendenhall brought several affidavits from the field's neighbors.
Jenice Prather-Kinsey and Reginald Kinsey spoke against the request. The couple also spoke in opposition at the Aug. 20 meeting.
Prather-Kinsey said the baseball field is detrimental to safety and property values. She also expressed concern over the traffic and speed of vehicles the field has caused.
The Kinseys said they encourage recreational activity but Prather-Kinsey said they “prefer this activity not occur in our neighborhood."
Both stressed that they do not have any negative feelings toward kids.
About the 2006 homeowner's association meeting, Prather-Kinsey said the intentions for the field were not clearly presented.
“We thought it was for him and his son” to use, Prather-Kinsey said, adding that she did not realize Rose would let non-neighborhood residents use the field.
Prather-Kinsey added that visitors leave trash that the couple has to clean up. She also cited an incident in which she saw a visitor knock down Rose’s mailbox. Kinsey added that they have been inconvenienced by having to wait to pull out of their driveway.
“It’s a nuisance to our pursuit of happiness,” Prather-Kinsey said of the field.
“If you grant this, what’s next?” Kinsey asked the board.
“Maybe it’s a personal vendetta against me,” Rose suggested of the Kinseys' complaints, adding that their “concerns are fabricated.”
The county Planning and Zoning Commission first voted on the permit Aug. 20 and sent the recommendation to the Boone County Commission for approval. Commissioner Skip Elkin noted all the praise for Rose and his care of the field but said the “decision is not based on personality.” He added that the permit is for the land and not for Rose.
Commissioner Karen Miller said Rose should have restricted the usage more, adding that his home is not as close as the Kinseys’ is to the field, and he does not have to “live right next to it.”
Miller added that she wanted to find a middle ground between the Kinseys and Roses. There is no date for a decision. The commission members said they need to look into other areas that have residential recreation areas and try and find a compromise that would be agreeable to the Kinseys and Roses.
After the commission reached its decision, Rose said, “I feel really good.” He said he wants to continue to use the field for baseball, adding that it will certainly be used less.