Residents weigh in on planning Columbia's future

Wednesday, May 4, 2011 | 9:30 p.m. CDT; updated 8:27 a.m. CDT, Thursday, May 5, 2011

COLUMBIA — Planning the future of Columbia and who should be involved in that process were two topics deliberated at a Comprehensive Plan Task Force public forum Wednesday.

Residents gathered at City Hall to discuss Columbia Imagined, a six-phase process concerning the future growth of Columbia.

"I'd like to see disadvantaged minorities and youth get involved," Dan Cullimore, construction coordinator for Job Point, said.

City Planning Director Tim Teddy read through public comments from an April 19 forum, which echoed Cullimore's concern that "people of color (need to be) presenting and leading discussions."

Ann Peters, both a Comprehensive Plan Task Force and Planning and Zoning Commission member, said a Facebook page has been created for Columbia Imagined, and she hopes younger residents will join it to become part of the conversation.

Some attendees, however, said they feared that too much debate would slow the planning process.

"Too much public input could derail the project," said Greg Cecil, director of development and corporate relations for the MU College of Engineering. "If you keep bringing in people with ideas, you never get to the actual plan."

If the City Council adopted Columbia Imagined, Teddy said, zoning laws would not directly be changed.

"(Columbia Imagined) will guide changes to the zoning laws," Teddy said. "Zoning code writing is more detail-oriented."

"Giving the plan some teeth should be part of the implementation process," Cullimore said, referring to the plan as merely a set of guidelines.

The task force would like to see 1,000 residents become involved, Teddy said.

"We're not fishing for compliments. We want your constructive criticism," Teddy said.

The task force hopes to have Columbia Imagined finished between January and March 2012 before bringing it to City Council for approval.

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