COLUMBIA — The Columbia City Council voted Monday night to reject an upzoning request of two East Campus houses from R-1 to R-2 zoning.
R-1 zoning allows only three unrelated tenants to live in a home, while R-2 zoning allows a fourth unrelated tenant. About 60 houses in the East Campus neighborhood are R-1 properties, mostly as a result of voluntary downzoning in the past 20 years.
Owners of Hartman-Baker, LLC and MRZ Properties, LLC requested two houses on Bouchelle Avenue be upzoned to R-2 amidst heavy opposition. East Campus residents said if the upzoning request were approved, it would unleash a "slippery slope" of property owners who would also petition for rezoning in the neighborhood.
Homeowners also said the rezoning would increase the living density in the neighborhood and damage the integrity of East Campus.
Attorney Dan Simon represented Hartman-Baker and MRZ Properties and argued the concerns of residents were "erroneous and historically inaccurate." He said his clients should have the same right as their neighboring property owners to have their houses occupied by up to four unrelated tenants.
In other business Monday night, the council:
- Tabled the appointment to the Planning and Zoning Commission until applicants have been interviewed.
- Tabled part of a resolution to build an 8-foot wide concrete trail to connect the Fairview neighborhood to the future Perche Creek Trail. Fourth Ward City Councilman Daryl Dudley motioned to table part of the ordinance that would connect Weaver Drive to Dublin Park until July 18. The motion passed 5-2. The remaining parts of the ordinance — which were passed unanimously — approved the trail construction to follow the Scott Boulevard Pedway, which will allow users to travel west on the Chapel Hill Pedway or south to the MKT Trail-Scott Boulevard Trailhead. Construction of the trail, which will be bid through the city’s Purchasing Department, has a budget of $980,000. Construction will begin this summer.
- Unanimously passed an ordinance to restrict dogs and bicyclists in Bonnie View Nature Sanctuary. Chapter 17 of the city code was amended to prohibit dogs in “any portion of Bonnie View Nature Sanctuary south of Rollins Road” and west of the Scott's Branch Trail unless the dog is leashed and is on the Scott’s Branch Trail or on the trail leading to Fairview Park. The council also voted to restrict bicyclists to hard-surface areas in Bonnie View Nature Sanctuary.
- Approved the replacement of five bridges and the reconstruction of trail sections in Clyde Wilson Memorial Park, formerly Rockhill Park. The resolution also authorizes City Manager Mike Matthes to sign an agreement with the UM System Board of Curators for construction access. The agreement states the city has 90 days to finish the work. The project will cost an estimated $35,000, and city park tax revenue will pay for it.
- Authorized Matthes to execute an agreement with ISG Technology, Inc. to install eight security cameras in the downtown area. The council agreed to pay $73,863.50 for ISG Technology to install the cameras and appropriated $21,447 for maintenance costs every year for five years beginning in October 2012.
- Rejected an ordinance calling for a special election in August to increase monthly storm water utility charges. The council rejected the ordinance so that city staff can begin drafting a new resolution and allow time for council members to consult their constituents.