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Planned subdivision would bring housing, businesses near Battle High School

Monday, February 20, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CST; updated 9:55 a.m. CST, Monday, February 20, 2012

COLUMBIA — A planned development northeast of town will bring homes and commercial shops to the doorstep of Battle High School.

St. Charles Road Development LLC has released a preliminary zoning plan to the Columbia City Council. The Somerset Village development would use Battle Avenue and Spartan Drive as connections to more than 170 acres of residential property and 15 acres of commercial property. The plan has yet to be reviewed by county planners.

Rob Wolverton of St. Charles Road Development said the development will not be immediate.

"We anticipate it will be at least a year and a half or two years before we have any construction other than the school is going on out there," Wolverton said.

The residential areas include a planned city park and a future elementary school site to the north of Battle High.

In total, the city and Columbia Public Schools have spent nearly $3.1 million to buy land within the lots owned by the St. Charles group.

In the proposed development, roads connecting to Battle Avenue would snake through single-family homes to the north of Lake of the Woods Golf Course as well as planned duplexes closer to the high school. An area just west of the elementary school site could become a country club or day care center, among other options.

Wolverton said a four-acre plot next to the high school would be used to retain stormwater.

The City Council will vote on an annexation agreement for the property at its Monday meeting. That agreement is intended to speed up the process by holding development to Boone County standards until the area is formally annexed into the city, with some exceptions. Previous annexation agreements have required a duplication of efforts as the city and county each sought to make sure development conformed to their respective standards.

Thaddeus Yonke, a senior planner for the county, said the previous process had the potential to bog down projects as developers scrambled to meet each set of detailed regulations.

“When you went to do that, in many instances, it became almost impossible,” Yonke said.

Patrick Zenner, the city’s development services manager, said county standards have become progressively closer to the city’s. This has enabled an annexation agreement with the bulk of regulation oversight resting on the county’s shoulders.

“In most instances, you’d never really know when you passed over the county line,” Zenner said. “That’s how closely married the regulations are between the two jurisdictions.”

The agreement calls for specific exceptions to ensure aesthetic continuity within the city, Zenner said. These include adhering to city lighting and landscaping rules, lining streets with sidewalks and using barrier curbs on those streets. Barrier curbs promote safety and prevent stormwater pooling better than other options, Zenner said.

Street widths, on the other hand, would be subject to county rules. Specifications in the agreement list widths of 32 feet. In the city, residential streets must be between 20 and 32 feet wide.

Wolverton said an extension to Battle Avenue running north to the elementary school would be constructed to the same standards as the road that leads to the high school. Eventually, he said, Battle Avenue likely would stretch to Mexico Gravel Road as area development increases.

The county has not received a specific zoning plan beyond splitting the entire 204- acre area into two phases, Yonke said. County regulations require the connection of sanitary sewers, road plans and other infrastructure before any denser zoning can be considered.

Zenner said the annexation agreement will allow the city to focus its efforts on projects within its jurisdiction.

“We don’t need to insert ourselves into something that can be handled by the county,” Zenner said.

Yonke said this type of agreement would benefit the county and the public because it enables discussion with the developer early in the process.

“The ability to see what’s going on is a benefit to everybody,” Yonke said.

Zenner said the city’s Community Development Department plans to draft similar annexation agreements in the future and eventually write these exceptions into its standard language. Amendments could then be made where developers would be able to stray from these requirements based on the circumstances.

Two areas north of St. Charles Road, intersected by Battle Avenue, are zoned for commercial use in the initial plan. Codes would allow gas stations, fast food restaurants, pet-care shops and other small businesses.

Wolverton said that the commercial zones are intended to take advantage of heavier traffic on St. Charles Road and that it is too early to speculate what businesses might be interested in locating near the high school. He said the initial plan is subject to revision.

"There's a tremendous number of decisions and a tremendous amount of design and planning work that needs to be done before the property is actually zoned," he said.


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Comments

Mike Martin February 20, 2012 | 8:44 a.m.

The St. Charles Road Development Gang just can't get enough of our tax dollars -- and the bond debt that finances these big purchases.

First, they get millions for all the vacant land out there in the boondocks.

Next, they get the school district to pony up millions more for infrastructure. And now, they get to build a huge new subdivision in the giant nest we taxpayers have built.

And guess what: Tom Mendenhall and Co. are building another huge subdivision right out there next to Battle High!

Has anyone stopped to wonder why our school bond debt has SKYROCKETED in recent years? It was averaging about $20 million every two years. Then in 2007, it shot up to $60 million. In 2010, $120 million. In 2012 and 2014, $50 million each year.

The 2010 bond was considered the largest in state history for a school district. In Columbia, Missouri??

From 2016-2020, Columbia Public Schools plans another $120 million in debt, for a total of $445 million since around 2000.

It used to be that schools ADDED ON to existing buildings (the schools certainly have enough land); now, it's BUILD NEW, BUILD NEW, BUILD NEW.

And BUILD EXPENSIVE. It's rumored that the private Fr. Tolton High School cost half per square foot what Battle High cost. HALF, on a per square foot basis. And Fr. Tolton High is both beautiful and new.

The school district will be bankrupt if this ripoff continues. This town is too small and too modest-income to support it.

THE HIGH COST OF HUNGRY DEVELOPERS: Paying through the nose for new schools?
http://www.columbiaheartbeat.com/index.p...

CITY HALL HEIST? Gerrymander proponents want big bucks for park land
http://columbiaheartbeat.blogspot.com/20...

HYPOCRI$Y? REDI pushes tax hikes for some, big breaks for others
http://www.columbiaheartbeat.com/index.p...

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