COLUMBIA — A site promoted for high-tech employment by the Missouri Department of Economic Development was recommended for industrial zoning by the Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission on Thursday.
The 192-acre site is located in northwest Columbia off Heller Road near Route B. The entire property was annexed by the city in April but only 76 acres were zoned for industrial use. The remaining 116 was brought into the city under agricultural zoning. The commission voted 6-0 Thursday to recommend that City Council rezone the remaining property.
Chad Sayre, a project engineer with Allstate Consultants, represented the site's owners, Grindstone Investments LLC. Sayre said the site is uniquely suited for high-tech employment because of its proximity to the COLT Railroad, a 1.5 million gallon water tower, fiber optic lines and "an amazing amount of electricity."
"This is one of the very few properties in the nation ideal for a data center," he said.
According to a news release on the Department of Economic Development's Web site, the site "contains the utility redundancy, telecommunications linkages, capacity, and road and rail accessibility to make the site ideally suited to host high tech, next-generation enterprises."
The property is the first site to earn the department's certified site designation. The entire 192-acre property is currently undeveloped.
Commission members were agreeable to the recommendation because it's adjacent to existing industrial employers such as 3M and Square D.
"I think this case is a slam dunk," commission member David Brodsky said. "We've already got industry all up and down Route B."
Commission member Doug Wheeler agreed. "I'm not sure we could come up with a better place for this type of zoning," he said.
Commission Chairman Jeff Barrow expressed concerns about the impact an industrial development could have on Hinkson Creek, which runs through the property and is on the Missouri Department of Natural Resources' list of impaired waterways. City ordinances require a 100-foot buffer between the creek and development on the property but Barrow wasn't sure it would be enough.
"If we don't do something about the creek it could hurt Boone County and Columbia hard," Barrow said.
Barrow agreed that industrial zoning was appropriate for the site but said he hoped the developer would go the extra mile to protect the creek.
Approval of the site's rezoning will likely go to the City Council for approval at the next meeting on Nov. 16.