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.
WHAT: Columbia City Council's regular meeting.
WHEN: 7 p.m. Monday.
WHERE: Council chambers in the Daniel Boone City Building, 701 E. Broadway.
OTHER INFO: The council will discuss further reductions to bus services in town and an annexation agreement for a subdivision near Battle High School, along with many other matters.
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.
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.