Developers request tabling of Richland Road annexation

Friday, February 26, 2010 | 6:38 p.m. CST; updated 4:25 p.m. CST, Saturday, February 27, 2010

COLUMBIA —The long-contested issue of a 271-acre zoning request east of Columbia continues Monday night.

Developers first requested annexation and rezoning of 271 acres located near Richland Road in November 2008. Since then, the proposal has been revised twice to accommodate the concerns of the Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission.

Other items on the City Council's March 1 agenda

Proposed Vanderveen subdivision speed hump

A public hearing is scheduled for a possible speed hump on Rain Forest Parkway between Monsoon Lane and Zebra Drive.  Construction, at an estimated cost of $4,000, would likely begin in May.

Resolution to request speed limit reduction on U.S. 63

The City Council is expected to vote on whether to ask the Missouri Department of Transportation to lower the speed limit on U.S. 63 from 70 to 60 mph within city limits. The resolution was proposed by Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe at the council’s Feb. 15 meeting.

Two million dollar appropriation for GetAbout engineering, construction

The council is expected to vote on whether to give the GetAbout program an additional $2 million. The funds would be used to cover engineering, construction, and operating costs for infrastructure projects, including the MKT connectors, Old 63 Pedway and the Downtown Hub. If passed, the total amount appropriated for the non-motorized transportation project so far will be $20,776,532.

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In November 2009, the developers took their case before City Council despite the commission's suggestion to deny annexation. Citing a lack of comprehensive planning in the area, the council decided to table the proposal until March 1 in order for the East Columbia Area Plan to get underway.

The East Columbia Area Plan is a joint project by Columbia and Boone County planners to address the future of a 21-square-mile area east of Columbia. Several road projects, including a proposed extension of Stadium Boulevard, are likely to bring substantial development.

The Richland Road project is one of two requested annexations on the council's agenda Monday. A 20-acre property owned by Betty Weiss is also located on Richland Road and was also tabled in November pending the findings of the area plan.

On Friday, Columbia Development and Services Manager Patrick Zenner said the City Council had hoped the plan would be far enough along to suggest zoning and land use for the study area.

"Based on the scope of the plan at this point and the amount of information we have collected, that's just not possible," he said.

Zenner said he thought the council would table both requests at Monday's meeting to accommodate the area plan process.

"The commissions are working diligently to prepare a plan based on public input from the entire area — not just 290 acres," he said.

On Feb. 23, planners from Columbia and Boone County held the second in a series of public meetings to present the study's initial findings and to gather feedback. Residents at both meetings have expressed a desire that development happen at a deliberate pace.

Attorney Robert Hollis represents the project's developers, Richland Road Properties LLC and East Richland Road Properties LLC. After attending Tuesday's meeting, Hollis sent a letter to both the council and city planning staff requesting the project be tabled until July 19.

"I attended the most recent East Columbia Area Plan meeting this week and learned that the plan is not complete nor is it substantially complete," Hollis wrote.

The proposal has been revised multiple times to allow for more open space, lower-density housing and less commercial use. Following the Feb. 23 meeting, Hollis said he thought the area plan process, though incomplete, showed the goals of developers and planners were in agreement.

"People have some idea that we have some sort of motive to rush in and develop the site. That's just not the case," Hollis said. "We're trying to engage in long-term planning."

Hollis acknowledged there have been a lot of objections from people living near the proposed development. "Many of the things brought up are 'not in my backyard' arguments," he said. "They're basically saying don't do this here because I live here."

Zenner, who has been one of the area plan's main authors, said he anticipated further changes to the proposed development.

"The plan likely will need to be revised based on the inputs we have received," Zenner said. "To what extent I don't know, and the willingness of the applicant to do so is unclear."

Zenner estimated the East Columbia Area Plan would be completed in late June or early July. Additional public meetings are planned but not scheduled.

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