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Candidates offer different views on growth management planning

Monday, March 29, 2010 | 5:42 p.m. CDT; updated 10:10 p.m. CDT, Monday, March 29, 2010

COLUMBIA — Columbia is growing, and candidates have expressed differing views on how city government should approach that growth.

Two projects in the works will likely lead to significant development and determine the direction of Columbia's growth: The Columbia Public School District plans to build a new public high school northeast of the city, and an extension of Stadium Boulevard is planned on the east side of the road..

To prepare, Columbia and Boone County planning officials have worked together on two growth management projects. The Northeast Columbia Area Plan, approved by the City Council in December, addressed a roughly five-square-mile area around the proposed high school on St. Charles Road. Work is now under way on the East Columbia Area Plan, which will study a 21-square-mile area south of Interstate 70 and east of U.S. 63.

The area plan process is a study of environmental issues, city service needs, roadway capacity and rules for possible land use in anticipation of future development. Community feedback plays a significant role in planners' recommendations. Planners and City Council members will use the finalfindings of the studies to guide decisions on projects proposed by developers.

The City Council has twice tabled a proposed annexation and zoning of 271 acres off Richland Road, a project that would be adjacent to the proposed Stadium Boulevard extension. A majority of council members said they would like to see the area plan completed before deciding whether to approve the annexation.

The council's vote on the Richland project, its deference to area planning, and some members' opposition last year to an extension of Maguire Boulevard are among the stances prompting critics to cast the council as unfriendly to development.

Competing development philosophies have been on display in campaign rhetoric leading up to the April 6 election. Some candidates see development as a means toward economic growth, while others are concerned with potential urban sprawl and quality of life issues.

What the candidates have said about growth management planning:

MAYORAL RACE


Bob McDavid: Has said growth management planning will help Columbia avoid urban sprawl and encourage trails and parks. But he said he thinks it's important that the city encourage growth in order to provide needed tax revenue.

"We have to increase the tax base because that's what funds our city services," he said. "The more city revenue, the more public safety we can offer and the more social services we can offer."

Sid Sullivan: Has said the area plan process is a good start but thinks it could go further to include the types of establishments that improve safety and quality of life.

"We need to look at the way we're going to grow in terms of not only the use of land but that we include facilities: things like elementary schools, fire houses, sub police stations and grocery stores," he said.

Jerry Wade: Wade served on the Planning and Zoning Commission for 12 years before he was elected to the City Council in 2007. He said support for comprehensive growth planning was part of his campaign platform in 2007. He told the Missourian that area planning helps the city improve city service, sewer and road upgrades ahead of development.

"It is my intention to ensure that one of the guiding principles of that entire effort will be to reward projects that are designed to be a part of the land and penalize projects that attempt to make the land fit their design," he said.

Paul Love: Has said the planning process helps the city avoid falling behind on needed road and city service improvements near new developments.

"I think we need to have a long-term plan for what we want the city to be. We shouldn't just let it grow haphazardly. A lot of problems Columbia has now are because we expanded randomly outside the city," he said.

Sean O'Day: Has said he favors the city's planning efforts but thinks the city should pace itself.

"I do like the planning," he said. "(But) I think sometimes it can maybe get a little ahead of itself." He cited the city's construction of a new fire station in north Columbia but the council's decision not to fund new firefighters to staff it.

Sal Nuccio: Has not expressed an opinion to the Missourian on city planning. He called for infill development, however, in a written statement submitted to Inside Columbia magazine.

"Building up builds thousands of jobs in the professional tradesmen communities," the former pipefitter said, "And those tradesmen put a lot of that money back into Columbia, which fuels the economy even more.

THIRD WARD

Gary Kespohl: He said Columbia needs to encourage development in order to create jobs and attract businesses. He also said development should go ahead regardless of whether the city has plans to control it.

"We've got to get something going to get Columbia growing again," he said. "If it takes immediate growth without real good planning, we need to do it anyway. That would solve a lot of problems."

Karl Skala: Skala says he has supported growth management planning as a council member and as a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission. He thinks planning should take existing city services and road capabilities into account.

"I think growth management planning is the ability to plan future growth based on the infrastructure that we already have, so you fit growth into those areas that are already ready for it," he said.

FOURTH WARD


Tracy Greever-Rice: Said she supports Columbia's growth management planning but thinks it could go further.

"I am not sure that we are yet to the point where we're implementing a growth management process in a holistic way," she said. "I'm excited, and I think it's a really great thing that we're working on a new comprehensive land use plan, and I think that the steps that we've used to date are consistent with growth management values and objectives."

Sarah Read: Read said that she supports growth management planning as well and that community feedback is an important part of the process.

"I think we do need comprehensive growth management and I think the planning process under way is an excellent first step," she said. "I'm looking forward to robust broad and healthy community conversation that will move us forward in terms of having clearer agreements in the future as to what kind of growth we want to occur, where we want it to occur and how we allocate the costs."

Daryl Dudley: He said he supports growth planning but thinks city government should do more to encourage developers.

"Growth provides sales taxes and property taxes for schools and to keep our city going," he said. "We have not had much growth for some time, and if we continue with the current practices of our current planning and zoning and the City Council, down the road we'll be in worse shape ... However, I will not rubber stamp every project that comes forward."

Rick Buford: He says he supports Columbia's planning efforts.

"I think comprehensive growth management is a great idea," he said. "The various comprehensive plans once they're all put together will give us a good idea of what those area want as far as infill or fringe development."


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