COLUMBIA — The owners of a vacant downtown parking lot are exploring options to continue a lease with contractors using the site to store construction equipment.
The Columbia City Council was scheduled to hear a report Monday night from City Manager Mike Matthes about the former Osco Drug site, 111 S. Providence Road.
Contractors are storing equipment for use in reconstruction at the MU Power Plant, several hundred feet north of the lot, that will enable the plant to produce energy by burning wood.
The Kroenke Group, which owns the property, did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Matthes' report states that some residents have complained that the storage is unsightly, especially because it's located in a well-traveled area. Matthes said Monday that the city has received two calls from residents saying the storage area is ugly.
Because the central business district zoning area does not permit outdoor storage uses, the owners of the property received a zoning violation notice on July 18.
Many downtown business areas are zoned for the central business district area, or C-2. Matthes' report states that the use would be permitted under M-1, general industrial zoning, or M-C, controlled industrial zoning.
"They would either have to find a piece of ground where that would be allowed, and there's not many, or change the ordinance," Matthes said.
The council could choose to amend the zoning ordinance to allow temporary permits for outdoor construction yards. Matthes' report states some reasons the council might want to allow the continued use as a storage site, such as:
- Conserving fuel. Moving the storage site farther away from the plant would require the contract to burn more fuel while transporting material from the yard.
- Reducing wear on city streets.
- Minimizing traffic congestion.
If the council decides to allow the storage to continue, the city manager's office recommends:
- Requiring the contractor to screen the stored materials with a fabric wrap. Matthes said in his report that the contractor has provided examples of fabric wraps featuring photographic print patterns that it could use.
- Directing the staff to return with a draft of an amended zoning ordinance.