City Council tables proposed dirt pile ordinance

Monday, November 1, 2010 | 10:25 p.m. CDT; updated 12:00 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, November 2, 2010

COLUMBIA — A proposal to amend the City Code to limit the size and distance of soil stockpiles from existing roadways, streams and structures was tabled at Monday's City Council meeting. The Council will pick up the proposal again at its first December meeting.

Under the proposed ordinance, soil piles could not exceed a height of 40 feet and a ground area of 3 acres. Piles between 30 and 40 feet tall would need to be at least 300 feet from any commercial or residential structure, 200 feet from a road and 100 feet from a stream or waterway. Piles 10 feet tall or less would have to be 10 feet away.

Confusion arose during discussion as to whether existing stockpiles would be forced to comply with the proposed ordinance and, if so, when they would be subject to the ordinance. 

A motion by Mayor Bob McDavid to amend the ordinance to allow existing stockpiles an extra three years, after which they would be forced to either comply with the ordinance or be moved, passed with a vote of 5-1.

Kevin Murphy, a Columbia resident, was concerned that the ordinance would place undue stress on developers.

"If you have a 10-foot pile of dirt, at a three to one slope, you've got a 30 foot slope on each side," Murphy said. "So you've got a 60-foot diameter pile of dirt that needs to be 10 feet from a property line, 10 feet from an existing structure. The logistics are difficult. You won't have enough room on the property to store it, so you have to haul it off."

Murphy also said that the current ordinance would affect city developments along Scott Boulevard. 

"There's only so much right-of-way clearance there," Murphy said. "Under these rules, the city would be forced to haul off the dirt they produce."

McDavid asked the council whether the ordinance would affect city development along Scott Boulevard, to which City Manager Bill Watkins replied: "I never thought about it. Potentially."

Second Ward Councilman Jason Thornhill said that the ordinance would not affect the most troublesome areas.

"Take the pile where people can't see out their windows," Thornhill said, referring to a stockpile cited in the original proposal to limit soil stockpiles, "That pile is less than ten feet tall and it's probably less than ten feet from the house, so that wouldn't even be against this ordinance."

A motion by McDavid to table the issue until the next Council meeting passed unanimously.

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